Tennessee snaps scoring slump, beats No. 23 Wichita State, 69-60

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball downcourt alongside forward Jarnell Stokes (5) in the game against Wichita State at Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) drives the ball downcourt alongside forward Jarnell Stokes (5) in the game against Wichita State at Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

During the past eight days, low hanging clouds over the Tennessee men's basketball team were filled with worry.

The Vols scored 74 points combined in back-to-back losses more than a week ago to Georgetown and Virginia.

The return of injured star Jeronne Maymon is far from imminent.

A 4-3 record was cast as a disappointment.

So if told Tennessee would get 13 points combined by starters Jarnell Stokes, Kenny Hall, Josh Richardson and Skylar McBee in a return to the floor against a ranked foe, most would imagine that cloud booming with thunder.

Not exactly.

Sometimes, when in need of a win, teams need a leader and some unlikely protagonists.

That's exactly what the Vols got in a stirring 69-60 victory against previously unbeaten No. 23 Wichita State on Thursday on "Ray Mears Night" at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"A game like that definitely says something about our character," said junior guard Jordan McRae, who scored 17 of Tennessee's 31 points off the bench.

McRae teamed with point guard Trae Golden to carry Tennessee (5-3), while unlikely catalysts Yemi Makanjuola, backup wing D'Montre Edwards and even walk-on sophomore Brandon Lopez, did some unlikely heavy lifting.

After Stokes drew his fourth foul early in the second half, Wichita State (9-1) used a quick 7-0 spurt to build its largest lead of the night, 47-42, with 11:35 remaining.

The Vols, namely Makanjuola and McRae, counterpunched. McRae scored nine of the next 11, capping the stretch with a hesitant 3-pointer to bolster a 58-52 lead with 5:50 left.

In that span, Makanjuola scored two of his nine points, grabbed one of his eight rebounds, drew a charge and dealt an assist.

"We don't win that game without Yemi — Yemi was huge tonight," Golden said, later adding, "Yemi does things you can't teach. He's always around the ball. He just has a knack for stuff like that."

McRae's 3-pointer served as the dagger. From there, the Vols lived on the line. They hit 11 of 14 free throws to close the game and finished the night 29-of-36 from the stripe.

Tennessee was led by 25 points from Golden, who hit 13 of 16 free throws.

"Trae and Jordan, those guys weren't letting us lose this game," UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. "They were attack mode, they took care of the ball and they made their free throws."

Having shot 97-for-262 (37.0 percent) from the field in five games away from Thompson-Boling Arena, the Vols returned home to shoot 19-for-40 from the field. The offense was crisp.

"The biggest difference," McRae noted, "was that we only shot 10 threes."

Indeed, the Vols fired 58 threes in their three losses combined.

Lopez, who played five unexpected minutes against Georgetown, again heard his name called. He didn't fill the stat sheet in seven minutes against the Shockers, but Golden called him the team's "unsung hero" afterward.

After the Vols opened the night missing three of four shots and committing five turnovers, fans settled in for another offensive tour de bore.

UT found some rhythm, though, when Lopez was inserted. It was a welcomed sight after the past four halves of missed shots and building frustration. The Vols made 10 of their next 19 shots in the half.

A 30-28 halftime lead resulted. UT had failed to score more than 22 points in those four preceding halves.

Following Thursday's win, Martin said he could "truly care less" about the Vols' paltry offensive numbers in their three losses. He's preached shots will eventually fall.

"We have a lot of weapons," Golden echoed. "We knew we had to stay the course."

Wichita State's Carl Hall (21 points) was the lone Shocker to finish in double figures.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 91

TopTenn writes:

Great win!

wigmeister writes:

Good win! Attaway to go boys!

SummittsCourt writes:

Nice win over a ranked team. Keep it going!

jt45 writes:

Best game ive seen from Yemi to date and good thing too since Stokes was getting handled pretty good by their big man. This was a much needed win after the last two games. Whatever Coach Martin is doing to improve free throws was surely working tonight, 80% from the line is pretty darn good any day.

Great win !

GerryOP writes:

Good job guys! Good to be back on the W side! Keep it rolling!

richvol writes:

Great win. UT never gave up the fight and terrific game by Golden. Carl Hall schooled Stokes. Stokes need to get much,much more agressive offensively as he is way to passive for his size.

redskinvol1 writes:

Big Win!!

tennrich1 writes:

Look what happens when u make free throws...and did it basically without our two best players

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

100% of your posts come from an idiot.

lomas98 writes:

in response to jt45:

Best game ive seen from Yemi to date and good thing too since Stokes was getting handled pretty good by their big man. This was a much needed win after the last two games. Whatever Coach Martin is doing to improve free throws was surely working tonight, 80% from the line is pretty darn good any day.

Great win !

A head coach shouldn't deserve credit or blame for a team making or missing free throws. A player either makes them or misses them. Martin could do the same exact things next week as he did this one and the team could go 50% from the line.

VictorKruger writes:

This was the kind of performance I've been waiting for from Yemi! He really sparked the team in the first half. Stokes got schooled and McBee was scoreless, but we got a little home-cooking from the zebras, especially with the technical fouls. Not going to compalin about that a bit :>).

rockypop writes:

I can tell you that having played at Cincinnati during the 60's, when the Missouri Valley Conference was the best basketball conference in the country, beating Wichita State is a big deal.

In spite of the fact that the MVC has lost some of its past glory, it's still one of the best BB conferences in college basketball. This win was as quality a win as UT will have all year.

CCM kind of downplayed WS as not being the high quality opponent that he would have liked to schedule, but he knows how good these guys are, and what their history is. It's all good - for UT and WS.

ACWLY writes:

Another good defensive effort, really nice to have a strong defensive team... More wins to come!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Game plan was pretty clear the last 7 minutes..Send McRae or Golden to the hoop for 2 or a foul..Simple but effective..Should have done the same at Gtown just harder against a zone.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Looking good in what?? Their Deputy Dog pajamas..They didn't play tonight..Nimrod

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's your point, d-bag?

AHOUSE writes:

in response to lomas98:

A head coach shouldn't deserve credit or blame for a team making or missing free throws. A player either makes them or misses them. Martin could do the same exact things next week as he did this one and the team could go 50% from the line.

You can bet a lot of time was spent on free throws in practice this week and coach was watching and he won't need to take credit. Yeah the only way you get better is practice!! Once you get it down, timing, rhythm, and follow through it,s easy, you got to work on it.

Vols7Twins writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must be a math major at ITT Tech.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry, I see your point. Your point is you think 29 is half of 68.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Sorry, I see your point. Your point is you think 29 is half of 68.

Typo. 69.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to rockypop:

I can tell you that having played at Cincinnati during the 60's, when the Missouri Valley Conference was the best basketball conference in the country, beating Wichita State is a big deal.

In spite of the fact that the MVC has lost some of its past glory, it's still one of the best BB conferences in college basketball. This win was as quality a win as UT will have all year.

CCM kind of downplayed WS as not being the high quality opponent that he would have liked to schedule, but he knows how good these guys are, and what their history is. It's all good - for UT and WS.

RPI 18.

lomas98 writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If Kenny hall and josh Richardson went to the line tonight as many times as golden and McRae did, the percentage would have been a lot lower and probably a much closer game. Hall is shooting 52% from the line. How is that much better? A coach can try to improve form and practice all day, it still comes down to the player making the ft in a game situation. I was commenting on someone giving credit to Martin for the ft shooting. They are just as likely to shoot a worse percentage the next game with coach Martin doing the same things.

lomas98 writes:

Hopefully Wichita will continue to win as this will probably be the best non conference win at the end of season. Memphis will not be a good win unless they just win most of games left. Xavier should be good , but they just lost to vandy at home. Need to win the rest of these non conference games at home and then repeat conference play results from last year. Get well soon Maymon.

jt45 writes:

in response to lomas98:

A head coach shouldn't deserve credit or blame for a team making or missing free throws. A player either makes them or misses them. Martin could do the same exact things next week as he did this one and the team could go 50% from the line.

I disagree, practice can improve any facet of a game over time. The basic fundamentals can always be improved upon, Free throws are too often overlooked by todays coaches in favor of working on the fast motion offense. Saying a coach doesnt deserve credit for improvement in an area that has suffered lately makes no sense.

The next game isnt here yet.

TheCopper writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Another Florida bandwagon fan. I guess u have liked the gaturds ever since teblow was, what, a sophomore?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Great to see UT shoot so well from the FT line..Good hard fought win..GBO!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

What a game! Both teams came out fightin'. I don't think Stokes realizes how good that guy was. Stokes did very well for defense and Makan was awesome. Hall had a good game. Our 3 bigs beat there one big!lol

Hard fought game.

Basketvol writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

More like 42%, and what's your point? Yes, they hit their free throws. That's what they're supposed to do. Fouls were being called both ways, too many in my opinion.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sooo, you like watching tall men in shorts?

lomas98 writes:

in response to jt45:

I disagree, practice can improve any facet of a game over time. The basic fundamentals can always be improved upon, Free throws are too often overlooked by todays coaches in favor of working on the fast motion offense. Saying a coach doesnt deserve credit for improvement in an area that has suffered lately makes no sense.

The next game isnt here yet.

What happens if they shoot 50% next game? Do you think Martin just forgot to practice ft's that week or will he then get the blame because they shot poorly. They do the same thing in practices for ft's all of the time, it still comes down to the players making them. If Dwight Howard all of a sudden makes 9-10 in a game, does that mean he practiced extra hard the day before or his coach gets credit for that? Chances are he will do the same exact thing in practice and go his usual 2- 9. The percentage is a lot better this game because our best shooter shot majority of the free throws. If hall and stokes shot them instead of golden, McRae, the percentage would have been a lot lower and Martin would then be criticized.

1vavolfan writes:

Great game by McCrae, Yemi, and Golden. Wish McCrae would play with some consistency, he'll score 17 and then go 2-3 games without scoring. McBee's line 20 minutes 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 1 TO, 3 fouls. I'll bet Smokey could even pick up a rebound in 20 minutes, why McBee plays is beyond me.

Basketvol writes:

Great game! The crowd woke up in the second half and gave the team the home court advantage they needed. It was a pretty good turnout for a cold Thursday night. They finished strong in this game and were great from the FT line. Stokes obviously has some work to do. Golden played a great game. Mak had maybe his best game ever. What's going on with Skylar's shot? I noticed Coach Martin had Golden and Lopez in at the same time when Wichita St. was pressing. They need to do some work on breaking the press. It seems like no one was working to get open or come back to the ball when Golden, or whoever was bringing the ball up, got trapped. They had to call at least two timeouts in these situations. There's some work to be done still, but I think this team can win out for the rest of the non-conference schedule and go into SEC play with some momentum.

It sure was nice to watch a UT team beat a quality opponent and to feel energy and excitement at a UT game. Go Vols!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Great game by McCrae, Yemi, and Golden. Wish McCrae would play with some consistency, he'll score 17 and then go 2-3 games without scoring. McBee's line 20 minutes 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 1 TO, 3 fouls. I'll bet Smokey could even pick up a rebound in 20 minutes, why McBee plays is beyond me.

Like it of not McBee is the leader on the court....watch what's going on most of the time and he's directing traffic....he didn't get his shot off much tonite and WS sure wasn't going to foul him....

rockytopwestone writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

100% of your posts come from an idiot.

I was gona call him a idiot to and tell him state missed alot of theirs but your comment is better ! lol

ashvol7 writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

who cares...

jt45 writes:

in response to lomas98:

What happens if they shoot 50% next game? Do you think Martin just forgot to practice ft's that week or will he then get the blame because they shot poorly. They do the same thing in practices for ft's all of the time, it still comes down to the players making them. If Dwight Howard all of a sudden makes 9-10 in a game, does that mean he practiced extra hard the day before or his coach gets credit for that? Chances are he will do the same exact thing in practice and go his usual 2- 9. The percentage is a lot better this game because our best shooter shot majority of the free throws. If hall and stokes shot them instead of golden, McRae, the percentage would have been a lot lower and Martin would then be criticized.

And if their FT percentage gets better overall for the season will you still say the coach deserves no credit? Why do you even care if someone gives some credit to coach Martin for having a better game. Good grief. Even giving someone a compliment is a job on this board.

tovolny writes:

I had to look hard to find this article. Somewhat curious as to why it was not a main headline. So, I suppose if UT had lost, KNS would had 3 or 4 items explaining how bad the BB team is. Mike Strange and Erin Chapin are the only decent sports people at KNS. By the way, I liked ole Grif...what happened to him?

1vavolfan writes:

in response to tovolny:

I had to look hard to find this article. Somewhat curious as to why it was not a main headline. So, I suppose if UT had lost, KNS would had 3 or 4 items explaining how bad the BB team is. Mike Strange and Erin Chapin are the only decent sports people at KNS. By the way, I liked ole Grif...what happened to him?

Took his yankee arse back to Michigan

scvols writes:

Ok, Skylar needs to ride the bench. His shooting is way off and his D is lacking. Maybe sometime this year he might get his stroke back.

DevoSanchez writes:

Did they play zone on us? If so, what did we do differently against the zone?

maciste54 writes:

in response to lomas98:

If Kenny hall and josh Richardson went to the line tonight as many times as golden and McRae did, the percentage would have been a lot lower and probably a much closer game. Hall is shooting 52% from the line. How is that much better? A coach can try to improve form and practice all day, it still comes down to the player making the ft in a game situation. I was commenting on someone giving credit to Martin for the ft shooting. They are just as likely to shoot a worse percentage the next game with coach Martin doing the same things.

Actually he didn't say better; he said "different" Coaching changed his stroke. May improve percentage wise over time. We'll see.

spacehistorian writes:

The spirit of the Great Ray Mears was in the house! Go Vols!

golfman1975 writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

100% of your posts come from an idiot.

Great response titletownz! I always thought free throws counted in scoring...
80.6% or 29 of 36 of their free throws. Free throws accounted for 42.02% of their scoring...we won the game by the way..IYGAS Moosehead

golfman1975 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Great response titletownz! I always thought free throws counted in scoring...
80.6% or 29 of 36 of their free throws. Free throws accounted for 42.02% of their scoring...we won the game by the way..IYGAS Moosehead

Got it backwards...Titletownz is the idiot...not MooseandSquirrels...very sorry. I am an idiot and need to learn to read...maybe hooked on phonics?

golfman1975 writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Compared to what? We OWN you guys...

golfman1975 writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We stink at everything...but we always beat you in b-ball...we play you again...Dr Ben Dover will come see ya!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to OrangeAndBlueWaffles88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bandwagon FU fan

golfman1975 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Great post OKEMO! If Florida was so bad...looking like a penis...would it not point north instead of south? It is so funny because every year we beat you guys no matter what ya got....even in your NC years...that is why your north pole went south...just saying.

kyvol98 writes:

Hall played a great game last night. Unfortunately it was Carl and not Kenny. Best game Yemi has ever played. All in all, it is a quality win against a good team.

vol98champ writes:

Hall, McBee, and Richardson were no shows. Every time Richardson gets the ball I hold my breath. I guess these guys have to get minutes, but if they don't start producing and Maymon doesn't get well we are going to have many more ugly games.

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