Annapolis, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Melvin Johnson scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half, Treveon Graham contributed a double-double and the 15th- ranked VCU Rams opened the season with an 85-69 win over the Tennessee Volunteers at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Graham finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Rams (1-0), who were upset by Stephen F. Austin in their NCAA tournament opener last season.
VCU played without starting point guard Briante Weber. The senior missed Friday's game while serving a suspension for a violation of team rules.
Josh Richardson and Detrick Mostella scored 17 points apiece for Tennessee (0-1), which lost in Donnie Tyndall's coaching debut. Tyndall arrived from Southern Mississippi after Cuonzo Martin left for California and inherited a program coming off a run to the Sweet 16.
The Rams led 48-30 at halftime, but the Vols closed within 72-64 on a Richardson layup with 5:37 remaining. Mo Alie-Cox answered with two free throws and Doug Brooks drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to push VCU's advantage to 77-64.
Johnson knocked down another trey from the left corner to make it 80-66 with just under two minutes remaining.
VCU sophomore guard JeQuan Lewis had to be helped off the court in the first half after his head hit the floor while he was fighting for a rebound ... The Rams won their ninth straight season opener and beat the Vols for the first time in five meetings ... There were a combined 62 personal fouls, including 34 called on Tennessee.