Better aim at home for Vols

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) is tied up by Wichita State forward Jake White (50) and guard Ron Baker (31) at Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) is tied up by Wichita State forward Jake White (50) and guard Ron Baker (31) at Thompson-Boling Arena Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

An announced crowd of 15,215 was missing about 5,000 faces on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. This week's end of final exams swiped many bodies from the student section. The upper deck was more than half empty.

The rims, though, were still the same ol' Thompson-Boling rims.

Maybe that's all it took for a stumbling UT offense to find its footing. A 69-60 win over No. 23 Wichita State brought sweet relief.

The Vols (5-3) made 19 of 40 shots from the field. They sank 29 of 36 free throws.

In those belabored back-to-back losses to Georgetown and Virginia, they were 30-for-98 on field-goal attempts and 8-for-19 from the free-throw line.

Including three games played at the Puerto Rico Tip-off in November, Tennessee is shooting 37.0 percent (97-262) from the field outside of Knoxville.

It's shooting 52.3 percent (92-176) at home.

UT has made the same amount of free throws (61) in three homes games as it has in five road games.

The Vols don't play another road game until January 12. Home games against Presbyterian, Western Carolina, Xavier, Memphis and Ole Miss come in between.

Best Defense Since 1995: For the first time since a four-game stretch in December 1995, Tennessee's defense has held four straight opponents to 60 points or less.

More impressively, three of the four opponents (Georgetown, Virginia, Wichita State) played in last season's NCAA tournament, while the fourth (Oakland) reached the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

The Vols held the four to 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 19.6 percent from 3-point distance.

Back in 1995, the Vols under Kevin O'Neill pulled off the 60-and-under feat against Memphis, Houston, South Florida and Miami.

The last time five straight opponents were held to 60 or less? In the last five games of the 1981-82 season. Don DeVoe's team held its final five opponents, including NCAA tournament games against Southwest Louisiana and Virginia, to 57 or fewer points.

Presbyterian (2-7), UT's next opponent, averages 59.8 points per game and is winless against Division I opponents.

Golden Touch From The Line: Against Wichita, the Vols made more free throws (29) than they attempted in the two previous game combined (19).

Trae Golden was the prime reason. After seeing his junior point guard sink 13 of 16 from the line, coach Cuonzo Martin was quick to call Thursday the best game of Golden's season.

"With Jeronne (Maymon) out right now, we kind of lack a leaders" Golden said. "Me and him were kind of a duo so without him I have to step up even more. I just try to be that guy, help everybody out. I can't fallback anymore. I'm a junior now. I decided to step up."

Martin repeatedly said through the preseason that he'd monitor Golden's minutes and not ask him to play over 30 minutes per game. Needing a marquee win over a non-conference foe, however, Golden played 34.

He now leads the Vols in minutes (30.5 per game), points (13.3) and assists (37), while ranking fourth in turnovers (16).

Struggling Stokes: Saddled with foul trouble, Jarnell Stokes played just 18 minutes against Wichita. He finished with six points on 3-for-4 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds.

Since scoring 24 and 19 on 20 shot attempts in wins over Massachusetts and Oakland, Stokes has scored 15 points total on 12 shots in UT's last three games. He's 1-for-7 from the free-throw line in those games.

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

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Comments » 12

voloffaith writes:

Winning with Stokes subpar could be a blessing as he has evidently received much attention. Guards taking que to be more agressive off the dribble should help as long as thet are not reckless....As for mister Maymon.........on the bench smiling...don't know..is it just getting back into condition? Saving for SEC time? After today in Northeast it all pales in comparison...prayers with them..

CoverOrange writes:

Missed three chances for a quality win on the road. Quality win at home is good but on the road counts twice with the NCAA.

Ironcity writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Winning with Stokes subpar could be a blessing as he has evidently received much attention. Guards taking que to be more agressive off the dribble should help as long as thet are not reckless....As for mister Maymon.........on the bench smiling...don't know..is it just getting back into condition? Saving for SEC time? After today in Northeast it all pales in comparison...prayers with them..

I would prefer our guards be reckless then what I witnessed against Georgetown. Can't score if you don't try. Sometimes you have to push the envelop to figure out how far you can go. Trey, Jordan and Josh are all way better then they played at UVA and Georgetown.

golfman1975 writes:

Orangeandblue Gator guy...you will be black and blue when we get finished with you...by the way...What do a French prostitoad and the FU gators have in common? Both choke on the big one.....chomp on that!

golfman1975 writes:

Looking forward to getting our wounded warriors back...we will have Stokes, Maymon, Miller, Makanjuola, and Hall. Then there will be no doubles on the bigs. Very glad Makanjuola is getting playing time. He has not been playing Bball long so his upside is large...showed some of his potential last night. I would not want to play this team come conference time. I sure do hope we do all get healthy...the up side is great!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Go Big Orange. Go Vols Beat uhhhh Presbyterian?
Tuesday??

Tennfan4075 writes:

I sure hope the Vols can score more than 60 points and pad the win column against the level of competition coming up for the next 3 weeks, if not this will be a long season. Hard to understand how these players as a group can reach this level of basketball and be so inefficient at putting the ball in the hole.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Tennfan4075:

I sure hope the Vols can score more than 60 points and pad the win column against the level of competition coming up for the next 3 weeks, if not this will be a long season. Hard to understand how these players as a group can reach this level of basketball and be so inefficient at putting the ball in the hole.

We did fine against Wichy. I admit Wichy's guards were not Okie St. good or even the other 2 losses but they were as good as ours at a coupla positions. Golden and McRae made the difference. Both played very well. They can get fouled any time they drive the way they did in that game. Their free throws were good too.

We're looking very good for SEC games. I confess to a little worry about the Florida's of the world without Maymon and Miller. I was worried last year too before we whooped 'em twice. I still find that incredible. But it showed the potential we had then and even more so now.

BTW I don't think up pace is necessarily "efficient"! It can be I guess.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Orangeandblue Gator guy...you will be black and blue when we get finished with you...by the way...What do a French prostitoad and the FU gators have in common? Both choke on the big one.....chomp on that!

Please don't encourage any responses by this troll..We've had our share of A Holes but this nimrod ranks right up there

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Been preaching consistency on this site since the Oakland game last year..Shooting at 43% per game every game is the key to success..I realize thats pretty hard to do but thats what it takes to get to the tourney.McBee's is regressing which is a bitter pill because he really busted his hump in the off season..Against WSU he had a wide open look at a 3 with 3 minutes left that would have been a dagger and sent the home crowd in a frenzy but he missed the shot!!!He has made big strides as a defender though..At this point McRae and Golden are the key to success.When they shoot well we are hard to stop..Stokes will continue to have foul trouble because he's always banging for position and Refs just seem to always be eye balling him..Yemi really is a long term project that is going okay..Put backs are his strength..Might as well circle the Xavier game as the next step forward. Alot like playing WSU and Xavier shoots at around 45% per game

johnlg00 writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

We did fine against Wichy. I admit Wichy's guards were not Okie St. good or even the other 2 losses but they were as good as ours at a coupla positions. Golden and McRae made the difference. Both played very well. They can get fouled any time they drive the way they did in that game. Their free throws were good too.

We're looking very good for SEC games. I confess to a little worry about the Florida's of the world without Maymon and Miller. I was worried last year too before we whooped 'em twice. I still find that incredible. But it showed the potential we had then and even more so now.

BTW I don't think up pace is necessarily "efficient"! It can be I guess.

No doubt the Vols looked pretty shaky in the early going against WSU, but they got more efficient as the game went on. They just seemed to play looser the other night than they have in some earlier games, and they paid for it early. Still, as the old golf expression goes with regard to putting, "Never up, never in." A basketball player has to play with a certain abandon. Don't do stupid stuff, but don't second-guess yourself all the time either. When in doubt, take it strong; make the refs make a call. Focus on the rim when you take it in and dare the defense to do their worst. Then step up to the line and knock 'em down. Stop overthinking; it's a game, not rocket surgery. If they keep playing this way, they will do fine even if Maymon doesn't get back at all this season.

brod writes:

there is no doubt that the goals at tba have rims that favor the shooter. loose rims, tight rims, doesn't matter. both teams shoot on them.

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