KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Yemi Makanjuola had a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench to help Tennessee keep The Citadel at bay in an 86-55 victory Thursday night.
Seven of Makanjuola's rebounds came on the offensive end, and the big man turned those boards into points. He scored all 18 of his points consecutively over an 8:43 stretch, starting when he put back a missed free throw by Renaldo Woolridge to give the Volunteers a 62-38 lead with 10:48 to play.
By the time he hit his final points, tipping in a missed shot by Jordan McRae for a 78-48 lead with 2:31 left, Makanjuola had well surpassed his previous career highs of six points and seven rebounds, both set in the Vols' win against Chaminade earlier in the season.
While Makanjuola did his work with a comfortable lead, it was Skylar McBee's 12 points in the first half that helped Tennessee pull away for its biggest margin of victory this season. As Tennessee's post players drew the attention of The Citadel's zone defense, McBee and Cameron Tatum were left open on the perimeter.
Tennessee held a 16-14 lead, when a pair of 3s by McBee launched a 15-3 run, and Tatum hit another trey with 4:31 before halftime that pushed the margin to 31-17. McBee finished the half 4 of 5 from 3-point range but did not score again in the second half.
Trae Golden and Woolridge each scored 10 points for the Vols, who shot 55.9 percent (33 of 59) and cleared their bench by the end of the game. They outscored The Citadel 42-22 in the paint and held a 40-27 rebounding edge.
Mike Groselle, who entered the game averaging 15.8 points, led The Citadel (2-10) with 21 points.
The Bulldogs hit 39.3 percent (22 of 56) in their eighth straight loss.
The 31-point victory was a much-needed shot of confidence for a Tennessee team that lost four straight between Nov. 28 and Dec. 14 and will play five games in January against teams currently ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Since then, the Vols had to come from behind to earn narrow wins against UNC Asheville and East Tennessee State.
Nike Men's Tennessee Volunteers Tennessee Orange ELITE Shooter Long Sleeve ShirtShop
NCAA title-game hero Kris Jenkins says he will withdraw his name for the NBA draft and will return to Villanova for his senior season.
Andy Katz breaks down the likelihood of Villanova, Syracuse, North Carolina or Oklahoma making a run to the Final Four next season.
Florida State has announced that Xavier Rathan-Mayes will return to the court for his junior season. The 6-foot-4 guard declared for the NBA draft last month but did not hire an agent.