KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The reigning Southern Conference champions opened their season by continuing their recent mastery of the Southeastern Conference.
Justin Tuoyo and Tre’ McLean each posted double-doubles Friday as Chattanooga won 82-69 at Tennessee to snap the Volunteers’ 25-game winning streak in home openers.
This marked the second straight year that Chattanooga has opened the season by beating a Southeastern Conference team. The Mocs tipped off their 2015-16 campaign with a 92-90 overtime victory at Georgia, and they went on to win the Southern Conference’s regular-season and tournament titles to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
“It’s great for Chattanooga — for the city, for the school,” McLean said. “It’s great. I told (teammate) Chuck (Ester) when he was on his visit, ‘If you come here, we’re going to shock the world.’ You look forward to games like this. This is what we came here for, and after last year, this is what we stayed for – to play games and win games like this.”
Tennessee hadn’t lost a home opener since falling 87-79 to East Tennessee State in 1991.
Tuoyo had a career-high 22 points to go along with 11 rebounds in a performance that featured several dunks. McLean had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Greg Pryor had 14 points and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook added 11.
Tennessee freshman Jordan Bone had 21 points in his college debut. Lamonte Turner had 12 points and Robert Hubbs III added 11 for Tennessee, which shot 1 of 16 from 3-point range.
This game matched Tennessee’s youth against Chattanooga’s experience. Chattanooga has five senior starters. Tennessee has seven true freshmen.
“We’ve got six (total) seniors, players who’ve been around, great newcomers and a great coaching staff,” Tuoyo said. “We just feel like we can every game we step out on if we just be on the same page.”
Tennessee led by as many as seven points in the first half before Chattanooga pulled ahead and gradually took control. McLean’s putback at the first-half buzzer gave Chattanooga a 34-29 halftime lead and started a 13-2 run.
“They’re a really good team,” Bone said. “They’re very mature. I feel like teams like that, that are old, they kind of know how to win.”
Chattanooga: Casey Jones retuned from an ankle injury that limited the 2015-16 Southern Conference preseason player of the year to eight games last season. Jones looked good when he was on the floor but struggled with foul trouble all night. He scored seven points before fouling out with 5:38 left.
Tennessee: With so many new faces, Tennessee may need time to sort out its rotation and establish chemistry. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes wasted no time testing out different combinations, as nine different Vols earned playing time in the first four minutes of the game.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
Chattanooga learned before the game that Xavier transfer Makinde London had been granted an NCAA waiver allowing the 6-foot-10 forward to play right away for the Mocs rather than sitting out the 2016-17 season. London had two points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.
The Mocs are playing without Ester, who is out for an extended period of time with a knee injury after making 29 starts last season. Tennessee guard Kwe Parker missed Friday’s game and had a walking boot on his left foot. Barnes said Parker’s status is day to day.
Both the men’s team and women’s team at Chattanooga opened the season Friday with victories over Power Five teams. The Chattanooga women won 66-53 at Rutgers.
Tennessee wore orange candy-stripe pregame warmup pants. The candy-stripe pants were part of Tennessee’s pregame gear during the tenure of Ray Mears, who coached the Vols from 1962-77. Barnes brought them back this season.