Tyreke Key scored a game-high 17 points and Tennessee's suffocating defense enabled the No. 7 Volunteers to cruise to an 84-49 victory over visiting Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Key shot 4 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 7 from distance, and went a perfect 7 of 7 from the free-throw line. Julian Phillips added 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while Zakai Zeigler chipped in 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Olivier Nkamhoua finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Volunteers (8-1), who won their seventh straight game, struggled offensively, going 24 of 60 (40 percent) from the field, including just 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) from 3-point range.
But Tennessee, which went 31 of 41 (75.6 percent) from the free-throw line, made up for it defensively.
The Volunteers forced Eastern Kentucky (4-5) to shoot an abysmal 15 of 68 (22.1 percent) from the field, including a woeful 6 for 35 (17.1 percent) from beyond the arc. The Volunteers outrebounded the Colonels 56-40.
The Colonels, who have dropped three of their past four games, were led by Leland Walker's 13 points, with Tayshawn Comer and Michael Moreno each adding six points. Eastern Kentucky had just 18 free-throw attempts, making 13.
Key scored 10 points during Tennessee's 16-4 run to open the second half to take a 48-27 lead following Nkamhoua's dunk with 16:19 remaining.
The Volunteers stretched their lead to 76-46 following Uros Plavsic's two free throws with 1:53 to go.
After the Colonels took an 11-9 lead with 11:51 left in the first half, Tennessee took control of the game by forcing Eastern Kentucky to miss nine of its last 10 shots from the field to take a 32-21 halftime lead.
Phillips scored eight points in the first 20 minutes for Tennessee, which shot 8 of 34 (23.5 percent) from the field, including a woeful 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Colonels shot 6 of 29 (20.7 percent) from the field, including a dreadful 2 of 17 (11.8 percent) from distance.
--Field Level Media