KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Trailing by nine points with 7:24 remaining in the first half Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns scored only seven points the rest of the half and couldn't get any closer to the 14th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers here Monday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Vols (9-2), who held a 44-31 halftime lead, then outscored the Ragin' Cajuns 13-2 to start the second half and from there raced away to an 89-62 victory.

The Cajuns (4-7) missed two shots on their first possession of the second half and the Vols got a fastbreak layup from Cameron Tatum. The Cajuns turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and Tyler Smith hit a jumper at 19:03 and very quickly the Vols lead grew to 48-31 and forced a UL timeout.

Louisiana got a tap-in off an offensive rebound by Chris Gradnigo at 18:49 and it was 48-33. The Vols would get free throws at 18:01 and 17:11 to extend the lead to 51-33.

A missed jumper by Tyren Johnson sent the Vols off and running for a dunk by Scotty Hopson at 16:39 which moved the lead into 20 points for the first time. From that point on the UT lead never dipped below 20 points.

A Gradnigo make at 15:02 trimmed the deficit to 57-35. The Vols bolted off on a 12-2 run capped off by a three-pointer made by Josh Tabb at the 12:37 mark which pushed the UT lead to 69-37, the first time in the game lead grew over 30 points.

Louisiana got a three-pointer by Lamar Roberson and a basket by Randell Daigle for five quick points which dropped the deficit to 69-42 with 11:52 remaining. The Vols scored six unanswered to return to the lead to 30-plus, a range which the lead never got below until five minutes remained.

The loss spoiled the regular season debut of Daigle who took the court for the first time this season for Louisiana. Daigle, who missed the first 10 games with a hand injury, scored a team-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 from three-point range) in 20 minutes. He was joined in double figures by Roberson who scored 11 points.

Tennessee received a game-high 18 points from Wayne Chism who added 15 rebounds for a double-double in only 24 minutes of work.

The Vols point total marked the first time in 36 games that an opponent scored 80-plus on Louisiana in regulation. The Cajuns entered the game having held 35 straight foes below 80 in regulation and ironically Tennessee's 98 scored in last season's meeting was the last time a UL opponent reached 80.

It was Louisiana's third straight loss since pulling back to .500 (4-4) after the win over ULM.

Louisiana took a quick lead after a Ryan McCoy triple on their first possession and a putback by Colby Batiste on the second touch gave the visitors a 5-2 lead by the 18:38 mark.

The Vols outscored the Cajuns 11-2 over the next two minutes to reclaim the lead.

Coming out of the media timeout, the Cajuns missed three-point attempts on their first two possessions. Each time the Vols countered with a transition basket after the rebound and quickly extended the lead to double digits at 17-7 by the 14:12 mark.

After a UL timeout, Daigle checked into the game for his first regular season action of the season. He made three-pointers at 13:53, 12:47 and 12:17 which gave the Cajuns quick offense. Daigle's third triple sliced the UT lead to 22-16.

The Vols got baskets from Bobby Maze and Smith on back-to-back possessions to increase the lead to 30-18 at the 8:41 mark. UL cut the deficit to single digits on back-to-back possessions inside of eight minutes. Gradnigo scored inside at 7:59 and after a turnover by J.P. Prince, Johnson rebounded a miss by Roberson and converted the putback to make it 33-24 with 7:24 left in the first stanza.

The offenses went cold on both sides and the teams traded turnovers and missed shots through the 4:41 mark and the score remained the same. Prince made a reverse layup as he was fouled by Courtney Wallace to break to scoreless drought and up UT's lead to 35-24.

Another Cajuns turnover, this time just inside of four minutes, led to a trey by Tatum at 3:51 which gave the Vols their largest lead at that point, 39-24.

Trailing 41-26, Daigle scored five unanswered by himself for the Cajuns. He made a jumper at 2:06 and after a missed three-point attempt by Tatum on the other end he sank a trey of his own at 1:37 which cut the UT lead to 41-31.

The Ragin' Cajuns had a chance to have the final shot with an opportunity to return the deficit to single digits before halftime. However, Smith trapped Daigle and forced him to step out-of-bounds with seven seconds remaining giving the Vols the ball. Adeife was whistled for a foul with two second left and Maze hit a pair of free throws giving UT a 44-31 lead at the break.

Daigle led Louisiana with 14 points in the first half. He made 5-of-6 shots overall and was 4-of-5 from three-point range. Wayne Chism had nine points and Smith and Tatum added eight apiece to pace UT.

Louisiana faces its second SEC opponent this week as they travel to Baton Rouge to meet LSU on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., and the game will be televised live on CST (cable channel 37 in Lafayette) and will be available online via ESPN360.com.

RaginCajuns.com

Matt Hebert