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
- Tennessee's Kasongo must miss opener, pay $300 restitution Nov 13
- After 17 seasons at Texas, Barnes ready for Tennessee debut Nov 12
- Tennessee Preview Capsule Oct 29
- Tennessee counting on Barnes to provide stability Oct 29
- Tennessee tries to succeed without natural point guard again Oct 12
- New challenges for Tennessee's Barnes after years in Texas Oct 6
- Vols fire Donnie Tyndall Mar 27
- Virginia staves off upset bid from Belmont Mar 20
- Belmont battles Virginia in East Regional melee Mar 20
- Arkansas takes down Tennessee in SEC quarters Mar 14
- Vols and Hogs tangle in SEC Tournament Mar 13
- Belmont shocks Murray State to win OVC crown Mar 7