KNOXVILLE — Travis Smith scored 25 points to match his career high Wednesday as Mercer defeated Tennessee 75-67 in the first round of the NIT.
Mercer, the Atlantic Sun regular-season champion, improved to 2-1 this season against Southeastern Conference foes. Mercer lost 58-49 at Georgia on Dec. 18 and won 66-59 at Alabama on Dec. 22. The Bears (24-11) will play at BYU in the second round.
Daniel Coursey scored 15 points and shot 7-of-7 for Mercer. Langston Hall had 16 points and Jakob Gallon added 12.
Tennessee (20-13) lacked energy all night and trailed throughout the second half in front of only 4,468 fans at the 21,678-seat Thompson-Boling Arena.
Trae Golden scored 20 points and Jarnell Stokes had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee. Jordan McRae, who was averaging a team-high 16 points per game, shot 3-for-14 and scored just seven points.