Cuonzo Martin comments on College of Charleston game
Martin aims for UT to snap its losing streak when the Vols play host to UNC Asheville (6-4) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
"You can't get consumed with it; you keep plugging, stay consistent, watch film and continue learning,'' Martin said Thursday. "The guys played hard last night (Wednesday), and they are learning. So it's a matter of continuing to play hard, getting over the hump and not turning the ball over.''
The College of Charleston rallied from a 13-point, first-half deficit to score a 71-65 win over the Vols on Wednesday night, taking advantage of 16 UT turnovers.
Tennessee's four-game losing streak is its first since the 2004-05 season, when former UT coach Buzz Peterson dropped four straight to Louisville (85-62), Kentucky (84-62), Auburn (62-59) and Vanderbilt (67-62).
The Vols suffered four-game losing streaks during five consecutive seasons between 2000-01 (former coach Jerry Green's final season) and each year of the Peterson era. Green also was the most recent coach to lose five in a row, in 2001.
In fact, prior to former coach Bruce Pearl, eight consecutive UT coaches had at least one four-game losing streak during their tenure dating back to John Mauer (1939-1947), who avoided losing four in a row.
Martin suffered through six-game and four-game losing streaks his first season as a head coach at Missouri State en route to an 11-20 record in 2008-09.
Martin, however, didn't lose more than two in a row in either of his next two seasons with the Bears prior to taking the UT coaching job last March.
"We just have to continue to compete,'' Martin said. "I thought the guys gave great effort. We have to do a better job defensively.''
Martin said he expects the Vols to show resilience.
"They'll come back with energy, like they have before,'' Martin said.
Martin said UT's ability to communicate with one another on defense will be one key to turning the team's fortunes around.
Austin Peay shot 72 percent in the second half of its 74-70 win over the Vols, and Charleston shot 65 percent in the second half on Wednesday night.
It's not a coincidence: in the first half, UT plays defense in front of the team bench, where Martin can yell instruction.
"When we go away from the bench, we need to do a better job communicating,'' Martin said. "I'm communicating a lot to the guys in the first half, just helping more than anything.''
Dynamic Dwight: UT junior college transfer Dwight Miller made his 13 minutes count Wednesday night.
Miller posted career highs with 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the 13 minutes he played against College of Charleston.
"I was tired of seeing my teammates being upset about losses in games we should have won,'' said Miller, who scored all 13 of his points in nine minutes of first-half action. "So I came off the bench with that passion and fire.''
Miller attributed his performance to preparation.
"We stressed coming in and focusing, making sure your head was where it needed to be,'' said Miller, who had eight points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in the 18 minutes he played in a 99-97 double-overtime loss to Memphis in the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Nov. 22. "Everyone had paid attention to the scouting report and were fired up.
"We felt we were on the right track. We understood coming in this (Charleston) was a great team, at 7-1, and they played well together. We had the mindset of continuing to do what we needed to do to be successful. Unfortunately, we had a couple of key turnovers.''
Martin said Charleston's switch to a zone defense led to him not playing Miller more minutes in the second half.
Tough Trae: Martin played sophomore Trae Golden for 35 minutes at point guard against the Cougars, while freshman backup Wes Washpun didn't see any action.
"Trae didn't look fatigued,'' Martin said, "but he had some key turnovers.''
Golden had nine points on 4-of-8 shooting along with five assists, three steals and five turnovers.
"We have to get Trae going offensively, where he's looking for that shot,'' Martin said. "I just tell him to play basketball, read the defense, find the shot or find the open guy.''
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32