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Triple-double highlights Tenneseee romp

Dec 4, 2008 - 3:41 AM KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Tyler Smith posted the first triple-double in Tennessee history as the No. 13 Vols cruised past North Carolina-Asheville, 87-69, on Wednesday.

Smith, a 6-7 junior, had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in coach Bruce Pearl's 400th career victory. Pearl became the sixth-fastest coach in NCAA history to reach the plateau.

"It is really exciting to realize Tennessee has played all these games over the years, and tonight we have a triple-double for the first time," Pearl said. "Tyler Smith may be the most productive player I have ever coached.

"Smith is the glue for us, the same way Dane Bradshaw was for us when he was here. Smith leads by example regardless of who our opponent is."

Pearl also took time to focus on his personal milestone that has only been reached quicker by Adolph Rupp, Clair Bee, Jerry Tarkanian, Roy Williams and Henry Iba.

"Getting the 400th win of my career is a tribute to the schools that have given me chances to be a head coach - Southern Indiana, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Tennessee," Pearl said. "Some of my success can be attributed to my assistant coaches, some of whom have been with me for a long time."

Tennessee (6-1), which was looking to bounce back from a loss to Gonzaga, surged to a 43-27 halftime lead against UNC Asheville, which had been devoured, 116-48, by top-ranked North Carolina in its previous contest.

Reid August and John Williams each scored 14 points to lead UNC Asheville (3-4).

Coach Pearl's son, Steven, even chipped in with a basket in the romp.

The Vols didn't have a particularly good night shooting, hitting 43 percent (32-of-74) from the field, including 7-of-22 behind the arc. The Vols did share the ball well, ringing up 26 assists, led by Smith's career-high 10.

"We scored 87 points, so I am not particularly concerned about our offensive production because we had decent looks," Pearl said. "We did a better job in the second half. Except for missing so many shots, I am not unhappy with our offensive production.

The Tennessee bench enjoyed a 45-18 advantage in the game.

The Bulldogs hit 28-of-69 shots (41 percent), but was 5-of-23 from behind the arc. Jason Ridenhour added 10 points on 4-of-7 from the field.

"It is hard with young players on the road. We did not shoot as well as we think we will as the season goes on," Bulldogs coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "We have to learn to compete at a higher level, and scrap and fight more for position as we get in better shape and mature a little bit. It is hard with a lot of freshmen, but other teams have freshmen, too. I like our guys. We have a real good group of players, and a good group of young men. We just have to play better.

"We are a little small, but we are scrappy. We have got to do a better job of handling pressure. Although we did not turn it over, we did not really execute plays and get open shots like we would like. I was not disappointed in our efforts; I am disappointed we are not playing better at this time of the year, but we are getting there."

The Vols have beaten UNC Asheville in each of the program's six meetings.

Tennessee has won a school-record 35 straight games at Thompson-Boling Arena.