KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Josh Richardson helped the Vols avoid a slow start and a third consecutive loss by scoring 19 points in an 82-67 win over Morehead St. on Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols were coming off two straight losses, but a Jarnell Stokes jump shot put Tennessee up 2-0 and the Vols never trailed.
Richardson's 3-point shot out Tennessee up 11-6 and while a Luka Pajkovic jumped cut Tennessee's lead to 16-12 at 10:22, consecutive baskets by Richardson, Antonio Barton and Jordan McRae opened up a 23-12 lead.
The Vols led 41-30 at the half.
Tennessee opened the second half with an 11-0 run and coasted to their 7th win of the season.
Richardson led the way with 19 points and 8 rebounds.
"If we'd have lost, I would not have been a happy camper on Christmas," said Richardson after the game.
"My family wouldn't have liked me, but being able to go into (the holiday) with a smile on a high note is important for everybody."
Jeronne Maymon had 16 points and 8 rebounds while Jarnell Stokes scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Derek Reese also scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Tennessee.
"You definitely didn't want to go home over Christmas break with a loss hanging over your head," said Maymon.
"It's kind of gloomy but we came out here, played hard and got the win and come get ready for Virginia."
Morehead St. had four players score in double-figures, but the Vols out rebounded the Eagles 49-28.