The visiting Bulldogs, meanwhile, must have set some sort of record for offensive futility. They trailed 20-0 before hitting their first free throw and trailed 57-8 before hitting their first field goal with 3:09 left to halftime.
Pearl, now 100-37 for his UT career, mercifully called off the fullcourt press after 13 minutes but still saw his team take a 66-14 lead to the locker room. The coach substituted freely in the second half but still couldn't slow the onslaught. Tennessee built the lead to 83 points (124-41) before allowing Asheville to score the game's final eight points. Otherwise, the Vols also would've set a program record for victory margin. As it is, Tuesday's 75-point bulge ranks second to the 79-point margin Tennessee registered in a 121-42 blowout of Mexico in 1966.
For all of the offense Tennessee displayed Tuesday evening, however, it was the Vols' defense that carried the day. Their fullcourt press totally disoriented the visitors, who missed their first 19 field-goal tries and committed 14 turnovers in the opening 16 minutes. The Bulldogs were 2 of 26 (7.7 percent) from the field and 0 of 8 from 3 at the break.
"Tonight we set some records offensively, and I'm sure that's probably what's going to get discussed," Pearl said. "But really, it was all about our defense. Our first-half defensive effort was as good as I've seen in awhile."
The 10th-ranked Vols, now 2-0, were too tall, too fast and too athletic for the Bulldogs, now 0-2. The result was a mismatch that was downright painful to watch.
"I've seen them play before, and they just did not play well tonight," Pearl said of the visitors. "They're a better team than that."
Perhaps, but a swarming Tennessee defense gave the Bulldogs no chance to prove it on this night. UNC Asheville finished 23.9 percent from the field and 6.3 percent (1 of 16) from beyond the arc. The Dogs recorded more than four times as many turnovers (29) as assists (7).
Tennessee, meanwhile, shot 59.7 percent from the field and 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from 3. The Vols registered nearly three times as many assists (34) as turnovers (12). Many of UT's baskets came in transition following UNCA turnovers.
"We made some really good plays in pressure early that kind of got us on our run," Pearl said. "Obviously, we played unselfish basketball."
Red-hot Scotty Hopson continued his lights-out shooting, hitting 8 of 11 from the field - 6 of 7 from 3 - en route to a game-high 25 points. The 6-7 sophomore hit 6 of 8 from the field - 4 of 6 from 3 - in the opener, giving him two-game totals of 14 of 19 from the field (73.7 percent) and 10 of 13 from beyond the arc (76.9 percent).
Bobby Maze added 14 points, 7 assists and just 1 turnover in 21 minutes at the point. Backup point Melvin Goins also starred, chipping in 11 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers and 5 steals. Also starring in a reserve role was Cameron Tatum, who hit 5 of 6 shots en route to a 13-point, 5-rebound, 2-assist performance in just 13 minutes.
Wayne Chism and Renaldo Woolridge contributed 11 points each. All-American Tyler Smith - clearly not needed on this evening - contributed 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in a quiet 22 minutes. Brian Williams came off the bench to sink 4 of 5 shots and produce 9 points and 2 blocks in 13 minutes.
J.P. Primm scored 13 points to pace UNC Asheville.
Tennessee now jets to the Virgin Islands, where it will face East Carolina Friday at 3:30 EST in Round 1 of the Paradise Jam tournament.