Vols rally past Herd, 84-74
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Armani Moore scored a career-high 20 points as Tennessee rallied from a 16-point, second-half deficit Thursday in an 84-74 victory over Marshall that spoiled the Thundering Herd’s season opener.
Kevin Punter and Robert Hubbs each added 19 points and sparked a 26-2 run that put Tennessee (2-1) in front for good. Punter scored 17 of his points after halftime. Devon Baulkman had 13 points.
Tennessee pulled off its biggest comeback since rallying from 17 point s down to beat Vanderbilt 67-64 on Jan. 15, 2011.
Marshall led 51-35 with less than 15 minutes left before Tennessee began its comeback. The Volunteers’ 26-2 run included one stretch in which they scored 19 straight points.
Ryan Taylor had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Marshall. Stevie Browning also had 18 points. James Kelly added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Marshall was one of the last two Division I teams to open its regular season. Alcorn State was scheduled to play its opener later Thursday night against Grand Canyon.
Although Marshall was coming off an 11-21 season and had lost an exhibition game 101-89 to Division II school Newberry on Sunday, the Thundering Herd gave Tennessee all it could handle.
After leading 38-35 at halftime, Marshall opened the second half on a 13-0 run and owned a 51-35 lead after Kelly’s basket with 14:59 remaining.
That 16-point lead vanished in less than four minutes.
Hubbs got Tennessee’s first points of the second half on a layup with 14:36 left. And once the Vols finally began scoring again, they couldn’t stop.
The Hubbs layup started a 7-0 spurt that got Tennessee back within single digits. Taylor sank a pair of free throws to put the lead back to 11, but Tennessee reeled off 19 straight points and never looked back.
Punter, held scoreless for the first 19 1/2 minutes of the game, made his first basket with 11:09 left to put Tennessee ahead for good at 54-53.
Marshall: The loss to Tennessee ended a string of nine consecutive season-opening victories for the Thundering Herd. Marshall’s last loss in a season opener was 91-81 at Evansville in 2005.
Tennessee: The Volunteers earned their 56th consecutive November home victory. The Volunteers haven’t lost a November home game since 1995.
Marshall: Visits Morehead State on Tuesday.
Tennessee: Hosts Gardner-Webb on Sunday.