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Tennessee cruises against Presbyterian, 86-44

NCAA Basketball: Presbyterian at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Presbyterian pulled even at 8-8 early on in the first half, and then Tennessee went on a 15-0 run. Very quickly the Volunteers established a double digit lead, and they never looked back, improving to 5-1 on the year.

Victor Bailey Jr. got the start once again for Tennessee with Josiah-Jordan James missing another game. It’s been a rough start to the season for Bailey, but he found his stroke early on in this one. Two early three-pointers and two free throws paced Tennessee during their early run. Justin Powell added three more from beyond the arc, while Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler each hit one a piece.

Tennessee maintained a ten point advantage almost exclusively through guard play, shooting better than 60 percent from three-point range to start. The Vols then started attacking the paint, getting John Fulkerson involved in the post. Kennedy Chandler slashed to the rim for two more, and then Bailey drilled another from deep.

Suddenly, Tennessee had Presbyterian doubled up. The Volunteers took a 45-21 lead into the halftime break, ending the first half on a 17-0 run.

It was a pretty lethargic start to the second half as both side struggled to find offense. Tennessee added just ten points over the first ten minutes of the half before Powell drilled another three. And then Bailey hit another on the following possession — and then it was Powell drilling another.

The shots were falling for Tennessee, and the defense was pretty good on the other end. The Vols forced a good amount of turnovers against the Blue Hose, and did plenty of damage off of those steals. The Vols forced 24 in total, and only committed eight.

Outside of a little lull to start the second half, Rick Barnes has to be fairly pleased with the effort tonight.

Kennedy Chandler did his thing — 15 points, seven assists and seven steals, once again proving to be the spark plug that makes it all go for Tennessee. Justin Powell finished 5-5 from three point range, while Bailey shot 4-8 to score 14 total.

It was good to see Bailey come alive early in this one after such a tough start to the year. He’s a guys that’s sort of been lost in the wash to this point, but he’s a veteran shooter that can get hot at any point. The Vols need him engaged, and they got that tonight.

Tennessee is back in action on Saturday at Colorado (2 p.m. ET, FS1).