D'Montre Edwards discusses the pressing issues of the Vols' Italian tour
MONSUMMANO TERME, Italy — After marching to a 52-point victory in the opening game of its 2012 Italian tour earlier this week, the Tennessee men's basketball team convened in the hotel lobby.
Word was out: over in Venice, UT's SEC brethren from Georgia lost to BC Atletas from Lithuania. When American college teams take summer international tours, losing is rarely on the trip manifesto.
The next bit of news to spread was that Atletas was the Vols' next opponent.
Having seen his team stomp past the overmatched Italians, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin subtly said, "I hope we get tested."
He got his wish.
Atletas was not intimidated Friday. The Vols' hard-fought, 3-point halftime lead proved as much.
Tennessee's defense, though, wouldn't allow for an upset in UT's second of four games overseas. The Vols captured an 82-68 victory by holding the Lithuanians to nine second-half field goals, eight of which came from a sin
gle player, guard Sarunas Vingelis.
"It was a good test against a good team," Martin said. "They won the second division in Lithuania last year and they're a team that executes their offense. They have great chemistry and continuity. I think we did a good job responding."
Jarnell Stokes responded loudest with 21 points. Trae Golden chipped in 14 and Quinton Chievous added 11. Yemi Makanjuola came off the bench to rip down 13 rebounds and score five points.
UT's Kenny Hall did not play. Martin said, "He just needs to play harder," when asked for a reason. Jeronne Maymon (knee), Derek Reese (shoulder) and Dwight Miller(knee) also sat out and appear unlikely to play at any point during the tour.
Golden said Friday that Atletas' 16 made 3-pointers against Georgia "caught our attention." The Vols answered by holding the Lithuanians to seven 3s. Atletas relied on a parade of free throws to stay in the game, shooting 23-of-37 from the line.
UT, meanwhile, went 8-for-14.
"It's hard, given the way we play, when a ref is calling every bump," Martin said. "You make adjustments, you don't make excuses."
The Vols fell into an early 8-1 hole as Martin's starting lineup of Stokes with Armani Moore, Josh Richardson, Quinton Chievous and D'Montre Edwards struggled to finds its way. Golden, Skylar McBee and Jordan McRae soon entered to restore order.
The Vols led 19-10 by the end of the first quarter.
"They're still getting comfortable with it," said McBee, who hit a pair of 3-pointers Friday. "They're still not really sure where to go and what they've got to do, but for it being the summer, I think they look good."
UT's day began with the morning sun showering Michelangelo's David through the glass doom ceiling of Florence's Galleria dell' Academia. The only work that comes to mind — perfection.
Later, the afternoon sun sliced through the windows of a nondescript gym called Palo Meridien tucked away in Tuscany. Rays shot across the floor. The temperature rose as the sun dove and the glare made certain parts of the floor blinding.
That's the give and take of life abroad.
Golden called balancing travel, tourism and performing on the court "a mental test."
"We're traveling, doing tours every day, trying to sightsee as much as possible and trying to get the Italian experience," McBee added. "At the same time, when it's time to play ball, it's time to play ball."
The Vols next play in San Marino on Sunday at 6 p.m. local time (noon EDT).
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn