NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee men’s basketball team began their SEC Tournament title defense with a 70-55 win over Ole Miss in Nashville.

The Vols turned to Josiah-Jordan James early. The senior scored eight of Tennessee’s first 13 points. James finished with 20 points and seven boards.

UT ended the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 39-33 lead into the break.

A half filled with 3-pointers was capped with a Josiah-Jordan James corner triple as the half expired. The Vols went 7-for-15 from distance while the Rebels finished the half 5-for-11.

Ole Miss pulled within four midway through the second half, but the Vols answered with another 12-2 run to go up by 14 with 7:32 left in the game.

Tennessee’s defense locked in. Ole Miss did not make a field goal for nearly seven minutes in the middle of the second half.

Santiago Vescovi also scored double-digit points with 15.

UP NEXT: The Vols clash with the fourth-seeded Mizzou Tigers at approximately 3 p.m. ET on Friday.