Tennessee holds off BelmontNov 17, 2010 - 6:03 AM Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Scotty Hopson scored 18 points and highly touted freshman Tobias Harris added 16 points with seven rebounds, as 24th- ranked Tennessee fended off Belmont, 85-76, in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Cameron Tatum posted 14 points for the Volunteers (2-0), who will face Missouri State on Wednesday for the right to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
"Belmont is a good basketball team," said Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. "I thought we did a pretty good job of being in control of the game most of the way. Our second-half defense kept us in it. We were tentative to close it out."
Ian Clark scored 18 points to pace the Bruins (0-1), who went 19-12 a year ago and earned a share of the Atlantic Sun regular season title.
Tennessee led 71-54 with seven minutes remaining, but Drew Hanlen drained a triumvirate of three-pointers as part of a 22-6 surge that trimmed Belmont's deficit to one. The Bruins' Mick Hedgepeth sank one free throw but missed a second attempt that would have tied the game at 77 with 36.6 seconds left.
Tatum then made a pair from the charity stripe following a quick foul, and Clark missed a three-pointer at the other end of the floor. Tennessee wound up converting its final eight free throws to escape with the victory.
"To their credit, they are not a particularly good free-throw shooting team, but they made their free throws and put the game away," said Belmont head coach Rick Byrd.
The Volunteers led by as many as nine in the opening 20 minutes before settling for a 41-35 advantage at the break.
Tennessee shot 53.2 percent from the floor for the game and made 32-of-40 free throws...Hanlen finished with 13 points, while Hedgepeth totaled 10 points and five rebounds...Belmont returns to Knoxville on December 23.
- BELMONT: 76
Nov 16 11:52 PM
- BELMONT: 35
Nov 16 10:31 PM
- BELMONT: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Nov 16 9:35 PM
- Vols PG Lopez to miss season with torn ACL Jul 29
- McKnight won't be able to play for Vols Jul 15
- Vols hire Donnie Tyndall Apr 22
- Cal names Cuonzo Martin head coach Apr 15
- Tennessee's Stokes to enter NBA Draft Apr 11
- Michigan holds off Tennessee Mar 29
- Tennessee and Michigan meet in Midwest Regional Semifinal Mar 28
- Tennessee cruises past Mercer to reach Sweet 16 Mar 23
- Mercer seeks another upset in clash with Tennessee Mar 23
- Stokes, Vols rout Minutemen Mar 21
- Vols and Minutemen clash in second-round action Mar 21
- Tennessee outlasts Iowa in OT, advances in NCAA Tournament Mar 20