COLUMBIA, Mo. — Santiago Vescovi scored 15 points and Yves Pons and Jaden Springer added 13 apiece as No. 7 Tennessee blitzed No. 12 Missouri 73-53 on Wednesday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
The Volunteers (7-0) shot 50% from the field and were selective with their shots, going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Playing its first road game of the season, Tennessee was at home in Mizzou Arena. The Volunteers made their first seven shots on mid-range jumpers and 3-point shots, building a 21-4 lead.
Missouri (6-1) didn’t get many chances to play at its preferred fast pace because it began most possessions by pulling the ball from the net. Tennessee built a 38-24 lead by the break.
The second half was much of the same, as the Volunteers hit their first three shots and scored eight points in the first minute and a half.
In both halves, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin called a timeout within the first two minutes to try to settle his team down. Tennessee stretched its lead to 28 points midway through the second half.
Xavier Pinson led Missouri with 11 points. The Tigers were frustrated by Tennessee’s defense and combined for just four assists.
Tennessee: Pons is the reigning SEC defensive player of the year, and Missouri’s players can attest to his credentials. The bouncy 6-foot-6 senior blocked four shots and came up with two steals. His early blocks contributed to Missouri’s early scoring woes.
Missouri: The Tigers’ offensive weakness is 3-point shooting. They entered the game making just 28% of their 3-pointers. Tennessee backed off Missouri’s shooters and invited them to shoot from long range. The Tigers couldn’t make the Volunteers pay for that strategy, making just 3 of 16 from beyond the arc.
Tennessee: The Volunteers return home against Alabama on Saturday.
Missouri: The Tigers visit Arkansas on Saturday.