KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In its first game in 276 days the Tennessee men's basketball team took down Colorado in a tight defensive affair, 56-47.
Tennessee (1-0) saw a balanced effort across the board with nine of 10 appearing players getting on the score sheet, while Jeriah Horne led Colorado (2-1) with 15 points.
Senior John Fulkerson and sophomore Santiago Vescovi led UT in scoring with 11 points apiece, while senior Yves Pons was a beast on the boards, pulling in a team-high 10 rebounds. Vescovi also added in a game-high five assists.
Sophomore Josiah-Jordan James had the most balanced game for the Vols tallying eight points-knocking down all four of his attempts from the charity stripe-six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Junior Victor Bailey Jr. was explosive in the early going draining his first three shot attempts to score eight first-half points.
The freshman duo of Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer combined for 10 second half points and were key to the Vols pulling away late.
The Vols came roaring out of quarantine, opening the night on a 12-2 run through the game's first four minutes. James and Fulkerson led the way with five and four points respectively during the stretch.
The Buffaloes responded well to UT's initial punch coming within as few as four points with less than a minute to play in the half. However, the Orange & White's stifling defense and a timely 3-pointer from Vescovi took the Vols into the locker room with a 31-24 lead.
Colorado fed off the momentum they built before halftime to cut the UT lead to 33-31 at the second half's under-16 media timeout.
Out of that break Johnson provided an integral spark, forcing a jump ball to halt the Buffaloes possession, an immediate turnover and a dunk on the Vols ensuing possession, before Vescovi drained a three seconds later to put UT up 38-31 with 14:41 remaining.
The Vols put a stranglehold on the Buffaloes through the remainder of the second half and used a number of late buckets to close out the season opening victory.
Lefties Only: The Tennessee starting lineup of Victor Bailey Jr., John Fulkerson, Josiah-Jordan James, Yves Pons and Santiago Vescovi was a group solely of left-handers. The Vols feature a total of seven left-handers, with Davonte Gaines and Cole Morris joining the starting group.
New Hoopers: Tennessee's crop of fresh faces combined for 22 of the team's 56 points in their first appearances inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee returns to action for a Saturday afternoon clash with Cincinnati. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 12:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network Alternate.