KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – With a strong effort on both ends of the floor, No. 18 Tennessee defeated ETSU, 94-62, Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols (2-0) held ETSU to 19-of-56 (33.9 percent) shooting while reaching the 90-point mark for the second time in as many games.
Olivier Nkamhoua led the Vols in scoring and set a new career-high, scoring 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. He knocked down both three pointers he attempted and also secured eight rebounds. Kennedy Chandler, UT’s second-highest scorer, scored all of his points in the first half, notching 16 on 6-of-9 shooting. He added six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
On the defensive end, Tennessee racked up 14 steals as a team—its most in a game since Feb. 7, 2015. The Vols also pulled down 51 rebounds, their first time nabbing more than 50 boards since Nov. 28, 2018.
The win marked the 729th of head coach Rick Barnes‘ career, tying him for 16th on the Division I all-time wins list with Norm Stewart and Jerry Tarkanian.
Tennessee saw its offense explode out of the gates, posting 46 points in the first half after going on a pair of long scoring runs. Holding a narrow 13-11 lead at the 15:41 mark in the first half, the Vols put together an 11-0 run to extend their lead to 13 points. UT also rounded out the half on a 15-1 run in the last 5:47. John Fulkerson dominated the glass in the period, pulling down eight rebounds in his first game back from injury. He finished with 10 and was the only Vol with double-digit boards.
Nkamhoua and Justin Powell both finished in double figures for the second half, scoring 16 and 11, respectively. Sixteen Volunteers played in the half, as senior Knoxville native Brock Jancek recorded his first career points on a pair of free throws with less than two minutes left in the game. Jonas Aidoo and Isaiah Sulack both made their career debuts, while Kent Gilbert checked into the second game of his career.
The game marked a return to Knoxville for ETSU (0-2) head coach Desmond Oliver. Oliver spent his last six seasons as an assistant on Rocky Top before taking the head job at ETSU this past offseason.
Next up for the Volunteers is the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. No. 18 Tennessee will face No. 4 Villanova Saturday, with tipoff slated for 1 p.m. ET on ESPN News.
FULKERSON RETURNS: After missing Tennessee’s season-opener due to injury, super senior John Fulkerson returned to the Vols’ starting lineup on Sunday, finishing with six points and 10 rebounds. It marked Fulkerson’s 133rd game as a Vol—he needs just 10 more appearances to break UT’s all-time record for career games played (142 by Wayne Chism from 2006-10).
BALL-HAWKING DEFENSE: Tennessee recorded 14 steals as a team against ETSU after having 12 on Tuesday against UT Martin. It marks the first time the Vols have had 10 or more steals in back-to-back games since Nov. 22-23, 2016, against Oregon and Chaminade.
POWELL MONEY FROM DEEP: After draining three triples against UT Martin, Justin Powell once again made three 3-pointers on Sunday. Including his 10-game freshman season at Auburn, it marks his fourth career game with multiple 3-pointers.