NEW YORK (AP) As a matter of course, George Washington coach Mike Lonergan has trumpeted Tyler Cavanaugh's importance to the Colonials.
The junior forward's performance Friday reiterated his coach's belief.
Cavanaugh scored 18 points to lead George Washington to a 73-70 win over Tennessee in a Barclays Center Classic semifinal Friday.
''He has been what we needed,'' Lonergan said. ''I knew he could rebound and he's actually a really good 3-point shooter. He is having a great season.''
Kevin Larsen added 15 for the Colonials (6-0), who are off to their second best start in school history. The 2005-06 team started with an 8-0 mark. Patricio Garino had 12, and Yuta Watanabe finished with 10.
Tennessee fell to 4-2 in Rick Barnes' first season as coach of the Volunteers. Kevin Punter led all scorers with 24 points. Devon Baulkman chipped in with 16, and Robert Hubs III had 13.
''Our guys continued to fight,'' Barnes said. ''We battled a team that is a good team and they have proven that up to this point this year.''
The Colonials closed the first half with a 16-6 run to build a 38-27 lead. They led by as much as 15 in the second half.
Tennessee cut the deficit to 69-68 after Baulkman drilled a 3 with 1:55 left. That was as close as Tennessee would get. McDonald made two jumpers to push George Washington's lead to five.
George Washington's control of the boards was a key factor. The Colonials outrebounded the Volunteers 47-30 and improved to 3-1 in the all-time series.
''We haven't played a team as big and strong as this team,'' Barnes said. The Volunteers entered the game averaging 44.4 rebounds per game. ''This is the biggest team we've played up to this point, really, with the bulk and everything.
''They hurt us.''
George Washington: The Colonials recorded 16 assists on 28 baskets.
Tennessee: The Volunteers entered the game averaging 83.4 points.
George Washington: The Colonials meet No. 24 Cincinnati in the Barclays Center Classic championship. The Bearcats are 12-1 all-time against George Washington. The Colonials' only win occurred during the 1970-71 season.
Tennessee: The Volunteers meet Nebraska in the consolation game.