BATON ROUGE, La. -- Jordan McRae scored 19 points and Jarnell Stokes registered his 25th career double-double to lead Tennessee to a 68-50 victory against LSU in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams Tuesday.
McRae, who made all three of his 3-point attempts, also handed out five assists. Stokes finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Antonio Barton, who made four 3-pointers, added 14 for the Volunteers (10-4), who have won six consecutive games against the Tigers.
LSU (9-4) had only two players in double-figure scoring. Jordan Mickey had 14 points, while Johnny O'Bryant III chipped in with 11. Senior Andre Stringer failed to score a point for the first time in his career.
Tennessee used smothering defense and red-hot 3-point shooting to take a 38-24 halftime lead. LSU made just 34 percent (11-of-32) of its first half shots. Meanwhile, the Volunteers made seven first-half shots from behind the arc -- four by Barton.
Tennessee took the lead for good at 15-12 on a D'Montre Edwards 3-pointer with 11:58 remaining in the first half. The Vols pulled away in the final seven minutes of the opening half when they outscored the Tigers 18-4. All of those Tennessee points came from its perimeter players.
Barton made three of his four 3-pointers in that stretch. McRae made two baskets, including a 3-pointer, and Josh Richardson made two field goals. The only LSU points during that time came on field goals by O'Bryant and Mickey.
The Volunteers protected their double-digit lead throughout the second half. In the first eight minutes after halftime, LSU cut its deficit to a dozen points on three occasions. Each time, Tennessee answered with a basket -- twice by Stokes.
There's nothing to suggest the Jayhawks won't end up atop the Big 12 for a 13th season in a row. But what about a return to the Final Four?
Colorado State graduate transfer John Gillon has chosen Syracuse, giving the Orange a potential starter at point guard entering the 2016-17 season.
DeSean Murray, who averaged 20.2 points as a sophomore at Presbyterian, will transfer to Auburn to play for coach Bruce Pearl.