After scoring just two points in the first half, Vols senior guard Josh Richardson poured in 18 in the second half, including eight straight to help erase a 12-point lead by Butler. Junior guard Kevin Punter added 18, while junior guard Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 16.
The win snapped a four-game winning streak for Butler, and the Vols became only the second team to score 60 or more points against the stingy Bulldogs defense this season, joining North Carolina.
Tennessee used a press to help force the Bulldogs into 15 turnovers, their highest total since their Nov. 26 win over UNC, and held Butler to just over 33 percent shooting.
Butler came into Sunday ranked 11th in the nation in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency, and lived up to that billing in the first half, when Tennessee shot 38.7 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from the perimeter. The Vols went eight and a half minutes in the half without scoring a field goal and entered halftime down 34-25.
The Volunteers rebounded to shoot 59 percent in the second half, with Richardson and Punter leading the way, to outscore Butler 42-21. After having 11 points at halftime, Tennessee held Dunham to five in the second half as he shot 5-for-14 for the game.
A three-pointer by the Bulldogs' Andrew Chrabascz with 2:43 remaining cut the deficit to three, but the Volunteers went on a 9-0 run to end the game and seal the victory.
Tennessee overcame 17 offensive rebounds by Butler with some tight defense down the stretch, including this block by Willie Carmichael III:
Butler drops to 8-2 on the season, while Tennessee improves to 4-3. The loss puts a damper on the Bulldogs strong start to the season, which included wins over UNC and Georgetown. Meanwhile, the Volunteers picked up a key win against what will likely one of the toughest teams they'll see the rest of the season.