KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Clinging to a two-point lead with 13:05 left to play, Tennessee needed a spark.
The Volunteers defense provided it.
Over the next 6:21, the Vols held Tennessee State scoreless as they went on a 13-0 run, enabling them to cruise to a 67-46 victory Saturday night.
''That's our team,'' Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall said. ''We're not a great offensive team. When you don't have a post guy that you can throw it to and there's no anchor around the rim to throw it to and draw a foul or get an easy basket, everything is kind of manufactured and that's not an easy situation to be in.
''We have to create some offense with our defense and I thought we did that during that run and that one spurt was the difference in winning or losing the game.''
During the run, Kevin Punter scored seven of his 18 points.
Tennessee (7-4) took its biggest lead of the first half thanks to a 14-3 spurt during which the Tigers were 1-for-5 shooting and committed four turnovers.
Tennessee State, however, would immediately begin a run of its own. The Tigers would finish the opening period on a 13-2 run that cut the Vols 14-point lead to 29-26, holding UT scoreless in the final 3:15.
''I thought we were a little bit more assertive at the end of the first half,'' Tennessee State head coach Dana White said. ''We shared the basketball, we passed up good shots for great shots - something we've tried to emphasize - and we got some pretty good looks and were able to knock them down.''
Josh Richardson added 16 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee, while Marcus Roper led Tennessee State with 16 points.
The Vols turned 16 Tennessee State turnovers into 25 points. Tennessee committed 10 turnovers, but did not allow the Tigers to convert any of them into points.
''We work on defensive transition every day in practice - five-on-four get back, it's one of our toughest drills,'' Tyndall said. ''We don't want to surrender any transition points. I guess we were fortunate tonight to not give up any.''
The 46 points were the fewest the Vols have allowed all season, and Tennessee improved its record to 6-0 when holding its opponent under 60 points.
Tennessee State: After shooting 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from the floor in the first half, the Tigers shot just 29.2 percent (7 for 24) in second half.
Tennessee: Robert Hubbs III finished with a season-high 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-6 3-PT). The performance marked only the second time in his career that the former five-star recruit scored in double figures.
Tennessee shot 13 of 29 (.448) from 3-point range, which was a season-high in both makes and attempts for the Vols . Tennessee State also had a good night from beyond the arc, finishing with a season-high 11 3-pointers on 23 attempts.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
''We have a resilient bunch that has been through a lot of adversity. I think our team has shown throughout the year, thus far, that there is no quit in them. When things don't go your way, that is a part of basketball, and you keep your head up. For the inexperienced team that we have been, that is a tribute to them because a lot of times, with young and inexperienced guys, when things don't go their way, they hang their head and pack it in. Our team hasn't done that the entire year.'' -Tyndall
Tennessee State: Monday at TCU
Tennessee: Wednesday vs. ETSU