Derek Reese picks up the pieces for Vols, 51-47

'Fairytale' debut for freshman

Tennessee's Josh Richardson, front, takes a shot over Xavier's Erik Stenger in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee defeated Xavier 51-47.

Photo by Chad Greene

Tennessee's Josh Richardson, front, takes a shot over Xavier's Erik Stenger in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee defeated Xavier 51-47.

Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel
Tennessee's Josh Richardson, top right, takes a shot over Xavier's James Farr, during Saturday's game in Thompson-Bowling Arena.

Photo by Chad Greene, 2010, 2012

Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel Tennessee's Josh Richardson, top right, takes a shot over Xavier's James Farr, during Saturday's game in Thompson-Bowling Arena.

Derek Reese's right shoulder isn't supposed to be healthy enough. A torn labrum brought surgical tools to the socket this summer.

Reese isn't supposed to be good enough. Most thought the freshman from Orlando, Fla., would redshirt his freshman season, healthy or not.

A tipped pass, though, led to a turn of events proving that the shoulder is indeed healthy enough and he's indeed good enough. When a 51-47, come-from-behind men's basketball victory over visiting Xavier was all over with at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday night, Reese was the hero in his debut.

"It's just like a fairytale," he said after helping the Vols improve to 8-3 with a date against rival Memphis (8-3) approaching Friday.

When Tennessee needed it, Reese was able to stretch that surgically repaired shoulder as far as it could go Saturday. Trailing 33-28, his fingers barely clipped an ill-advised cross-court pass by Xavier point guard Dee Davis. After corralling the ball, he charged up floor and drew a foul at the opposite rim.

Crashing to the ground, Reese came to rest against the basket support. "Let's go!" he wailed. Cheering teammates nearly spilled onto the floor.

The Vols needed a spark against the Musketeers (7-5) and got one. The team's stars — Jarnell Stokes and Trae Golden — and its seniors — Skylar McBee and

Kenny Hall — would finish a combined 5-for-19 from the field. The jump start had to come from somewhere.

Delivering on his message to get going, Reese canned a pair of 3-pointers in a 19-3 run he helped initiate. The first one cut Xavier's lead to 33-31. The next one fell with 8 minutes, 11 seconds left and gave UT its first lead since the 12:03 mark of the first half.

"It was nerve-racking, but then when the first one went in, I was so happy and so pumped," he said.

Reese's numbers — seven points on 2-for-8 shooting in 23 minutes — didn't make the game, but made all the difference.

As those seniors and those stars struggled, others stepped up, too. Josh Richardson scored 12, going 5-for-6 from the field. Jordan McRae scored eight points, including a key layup with 51.6 seconds left to give the Vols a three-point lead, 46-43.

A drawn charge by Makanjuola, his second of the half, preceded McRae's layup. It may have saved the game, as did his eight rebounds. Tennessee was dominated on the glass, 44-28.

"We went into halftime and I told the guys this was probably the first time all season I thought we got out-toughed," said UT coach Cuonzo Martin, who saw his team outrebounded 29-16 on its way to a 25-21 halftime deficit.

If Xavier was the Musketeers, the Tennessee defense was the Marauders. It looted a scrambling offensive attack for 19 turnovers, 18-of-55 shooting and held Xavier without a field goal for 10:16 in the second half.

While the UT defense provided its normal storyline, Reese delivered the feel-good sidebar.

He was cleared for full practices only earlier this week after spending the past four months rehabbing. During that time he was advised by Martin to keep a journal.

In it a recurring theme was "earn your respect"

"That's what I thought about before tonight — come out, do your best and at the end of hard work is greatness," Reese said. "Why go through all that and quit?"

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

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Comments » 124

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Yeah!! Reese may finally be the piece of the puzzle UT was looking for..GBO!!

volfan2002 writes:

Were 8 and 3 not 8 and 4 we don't need the extra loss it will come soon enough.

vol68 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Yeah!! Reese may finally be the piece of the puzzle UT was looking for..GBO!!

Reese's Pieces? A little John Ward lingo.

golfman1975 writes:

Will Miller be back?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Our bench will beat your bench...maybe your starters.

oldster writes:

UT won. That is about all that can be said. Even with a victory though it is hard to watch. If you enjoy UT basketball you must also enjoy watching teeth being pulled - painful.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to vol68:

Reese's Pieces? A little John Ward lingo.

Boy, that would be so nice to hear John Ward again..Reese from the corner..BOTTOMS!!

movol53 writes:

I did not get to watch but the last three games have been more like hockey. They ain't pretty but someone comes out winning.

ole3putt writes:

Bad, bad basketball. Kevin O'Neils offense would be exciting compared the stuff this group is showing.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Boy, that would be so nice to hear John Ward again..Reese from the corner..BOTTOMS!!

Ward never said "bottoms" it was "BOTTOM" singular.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to movol53:

I did not get to watch but the last three games have been more like hockey. They ain't pretty but someone comes out winning.

Under Cuonzo UT's style is now grinding out wins..

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

The Vols play as good a defense as a team can play. Most every shot is contested. Despite not being so good on the boards tonight, though, and shooting poorly, Tenn slipped away with a win against a halfway decent team tonight. Definitely not a cupcake. But one obvious thing still stands out. This team has to stick the ball in the basket a whole lot better than they are doing now. With this defense and hopefully some better shooting, I think the Vols can do a little dancing in March. If not...

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Under Cuonzo UT's style is now grinding out wins..

Until somebody emerges as a consistent scorer, not just Golden, then grinding is what they have to do. Maybe Reese will be that guy? Where are all the folks who were complaining about Martin's recruits not having enough stars?

BubbaTN writes:

My first live game this year and boy was it UGLY. This is a very boring team but somehow finds a way to win...great defense. I think Coach should bench McBee and Golden. They both look terrible. Golden is slow and not careful with the ball...exactly opposite of what is needed. I'd only put him in the game with the time running down and to be fouled. I know that McBee is a local kid but 1-7 shooting. He's not been consistent all year and maybe a hustler but not a great shooter. He needs to ride the pine too. No one got the ball to Stokes either. This Team has a long way to go and missing Maymon!!!!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to decades_vol:

The Vols play as good a defense as a team can play. Most every shot is contested. Despite not being so good on the boards tonight, though, and shooting poorly, Tenn slipped away with a win against a halfway decent team tonight. Definitely not a cupcake. But one obvious thing still stands out. This team has to stick the ball in the basket a whole lot better than they are doing now. With this defense and hopefully some better shooting, I think the Vols can do a little dancing in March. If not...

Coach Zo is sure to be up their rear ends about offensive rebounding after this game. I can't tell you how many times I was yelling at them for nobody making any attempt to hit the offensive boards. Still, Xavier is a good team, and one of only a couple that have gone to the sweet sixteen four times in the last five years (nobody has gone all five).

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Under Cuonzo UT's style is now grinding out wins..

its ugly for sure but guess if we didnt grind out wins it would be a loss otherwise for sure-----every year it seems we have worse shooters than the previous, just dont know how you get scholarships at this level shooting so badly----hardworkin Yemi deserves a start to give Stokes ( who our delusional ones were so worried would already be gone pro, thats a laugh) something to think about and hopefully Reese will get McBees minutes as 1-7s on 3s with not much else to offer hardly warrants the time he generally gets as a starter-------this bad shooting team should not be taking so many 3s as 90% typically miss

bosscat writes:

IMHO, one starter--Richardson--and three subs--Reese, Lopez & Makanjuola--were the players that won this game for us. Should Coach consider starting any or, say it isn't so, all 3 of them? I think Reese earned a starter's role and the other two earned a lot more playing time. I would like to read what others on this site think. I know one thing for sure: at half-time, I was a sad puppy not looking forward to the rest of the season; at the end of the game, I was in a much better mood.

AlWilsonFan writes:

Good grief the early going was rough to watch on O. No attacking the basket, too much brickin the 3s. And then wtf! Great to see what Reese brought to the table, very exciting to see what he will be able to do as he gets more PT. And speaking of PT, let's get Lopez some more.

GBO!

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

in response to oldster:

UT won. That is about all that can be said. Even with a victory though it is hard to watch. If you enjoy UT basketball you must also enjoy watching teeth being pulled - painful.

Totally agree with you, oldster. 1st game I have seen since Georgetown, and I couldn't help but think during the 1st half that this is the worst shooting UT bunch I remember watching. And when it comes down to free throws, it's hard to be optimistic even though Golden hit 5 out of 6 late to seal it. Seems like the BB team is barely averaging the offensive output of the FB team. Can't help but wonder how much better they would be if Maymon were in there and playing at last year's level. Fortunately, a win is a win and to end the year in this manner just might provide some serious momentum going into '13. You used the word "painful"; my word was agonizing. But in the end, they don't play for my entertainment.

tan007 writes:

I see a team that plays great defense & has a lot of hustle but need to put more points on the board. Our defense gets better every game, I think this team has a lot to offer & am looking forward to the rest of the season.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to bosscat:

IMHO, one starter--Richardson--and three subs--Reese, Lopez & Makanjuola--were the players that won this game for us. Should Coach consider starting any or, say it isn't so, all 3 of them? I think Reese earned a starter's role and the other two earned a lot more playing time. I would like to read what others on this site think. I know one thing for sure: at half-time, I was a sad puppy not looking forward to the rest of the season; at the end of the game, I was in a much better mood.

I agree 100%. Most of the starters tonight were lethargic and played like they're safe on the roster. It's time to move in some guys who want to play and hopefully Coach will make similar 2nd half roster changes to start the Memphis game. I too worry about the 2nd half of the year as we aren't that good. Defense may keep us in some games but lack of scoring will cost us many of them.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to tan007:

I see a team that plays great defense & has a lot of hustle but need to put more points on the board. Our defense gets better every game, I think this team has a lot to offer & am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Defense and hustle keeps you in games but scoring wins them. I think you're going to be disappointed with of the rest of the season unless we see some offense.

AlWilsonFan writes:

in response to bosscat:

IMHO, one starter--Richardson--and three subs--Reese, Lopez & Makanjuola--were the players that won this game for us. Should Coach consider starting any or, say it isn't so, all 3 of them? I think Reese earned a starter's role and the other two earned a lot more playing time. I would like to read what others on this site think. I know one thing for sure: at half-time, I was a sad puppy not looking forward to the rest of the season; at the end of the game, I was in a much better mood.

great post, I feel ya!

thevoice writes:

Stokes will have a difficult time in this league if he can't assert himself much more. Making outside shots would help, but I doubt Maymon wouldn't be this cold if he were playing in place of Stokes.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Until somebody emerges as a consistent scorer, not just Golden, then grinding is what they have to do. Maybe Reese will be that guy? Where are all the folks who were complaining about Martin's recruits not having enough stars?

I'm a complainer about lack of recruits. There is no one on this team a consistent scorer. Ah, did you see Golden's box stats? He didn't score until the last few minutes of the game tonight. He turned the ball over more than he scored. This team badly needs a good recruit called Maymon. Stokes is a great recruit too but he only took two shots from the floor tonight?

GerryOP writes:

Ugly wins count the same as pretty wins. 8-3 baby, 8-3. One more "preseason" game before the games start counting for real.

Has anyone else noticed that we haven't lost to any Belmonts, Austin-Peays, or Oaklands this year? That's a good thing!

UT4prez writes:

in response to bosscat:

IMHO, one starter--Richardson--and three subs--Reese, Lopez & Makanjuola--were the players that won this game for us. Should Coach consider starting any or, say it isn't so, all 3 of them? I think Reese earned a starter's role and the other two earned a lot more playing time. I would like to read what others on this site think. I know one thing for sure: at half-time, I was a sad puppy not looking forward to the rest of the season; at the end of the game, I was in a much better mood.

Hey Boss. I like your approach of not overreacting like some will and have by saying bench all these guys and play those others. Golden played poorly but one game doesn't make or break a player. But, when that lineup of Reese, Mack, Lopez, Richardson, and I forget the 5th were on the floor they moved the ball and attacked the rim beautifully. Mack was a beast on the boards! Reese looked great for his first game! I'm very excited to see more of him. Golden not only looked slow physically but he looked slow mentally. I mean things like looking to pass after the opportunity was gone. He had the right idea but sometimes by the time it came to him the hole had closed. He looks banged up so maybe he needs some rest. I do agree this is not very pretty basketball but I disagree with people saying it is not exciting. I love bball, not as much as football, and enjoy watching these tight games where each possession is crucial. Plus, we are scrappy and tough. I love that! Go Vols! We need a good run these next 4 games. Memphis at home, Ole Miss at home, at Bama, and at KY. We go 3-1 and we might have a shot at dancing.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Ugly wins count the same as pretty wins. 8-3 baby, 8-3. One more "preseason" game before the games start counting for real.

Has anyone else noticed that we haven't lost to any Belmonts, Austin-Peays, or Oaklands this year? That's a good thing!

Yes, we have some ugly wins this year that were losses last year. Not sure that it makes me feel any better. Don't forget that we've been down double digits to almost every small school this year. Shows that UT is playing down to the competition. The good side is that UT could also play with competition. They're going to have to put the ball in the hole to win more games from this point forward.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

its ugly for sure but guess if we didnt grind out wins it would be a loss otherwise for sure-----every year it seems we have worse shooters than the previous, just dont know how you get scholarships at this level shooting so badly----hardworkin Yemi deserves a start to give Stokes ( who our delusional ones were so worried would already be gone pro, thats a laugh) something to think about and hopefully Reese will get McBees minutes as 1-7s on 3s with not much else to offer hardly warrants the time he generally gets as a starter-------this bad shooting team should not be taking so many 3s as 90% typically miss

Exactly, Maymon is probably not coming back and Golden may have seen his PG position overtaken by Lopez. Either way Stokes has been playing like a Freshman (which he really is) and no one seems willing to create shots. However, after seeing Reese step up and hit critical 3's and JR creating shots this team may have more substance and depth than originally thought.

kwcoach writes:

Hey, glad they won but the Vols must find two people one who can score inside and another who can score outside. I am stunned by the lack of improvement and effort by Stokes.

vol98champ writes:

in response to oldster:

UT won. That is about all that can be said. Even with a victory though it is hard to watch. If you enjoy UT basketball you must also enjoy watching teeth being pulled - painful.

I have watched and listened to Vol Ball for over 60 years. Never until this year have I halfway watched a close game. This year I have to have something else to do during most of the games.

BubbaTN writes:

On the bright side, this Team has only lost to OK State, Georgetown and Virginia. All very reputable schools and having good seasons. If we can pull out all of the games that we are favored then it will give us a chance at the dance.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to UT4prez:

Hey Boss. I like your approach of not overreacting like some will and have by saying bench all these guys and play those others. Golden played poorly but one game doesn't make or break a player. But, when that lineup of Reese, Mack, Lopez, Richardson, and I forget the 5th were on the floor they moved the ball and attacked the rim beautifully. Mack was a beast on the boards! Reese looked great for his first game! I'm very excited to see more of him. Golden not only looked slow physically but he looked slow mentally. I mean things like looking to pass after the opportunity was gone. He had the right idea but sometimes by the time it came to him the hole had closed. He looks banged up so maybe he needs some rest. I do agree this is not very pretty basketball but I disagree with people saying it is not exciting. I love bball, not as much as football, and enjoy watching these tight games where each possession is crucial. Plus, we are scrappy and tough. I love that! Go Vols! We need a good run these next 4 games. Memphis at home, Ole Miss at home, at Bama, and at KY. We go 3-1 and we might have a shot at dancing.

Golden played bad, but remember UT doesn't win without Golden's FT shooting at the end.

tan007 writes:

in response to BubbaTN:

Defense and hustle keeps you in games but scoring wins them. I think you're going to be disappointed with of the rest of the season unless we see some offense.

Guess we will see later in the season but right now I believe in them & think they will work out the snags in the offense. I know I'm not down on them, they played hard tonight & came out with a win. To me that was enough & an exciting game to watch. We had our fans there tonight too...that always helps the team. I've been a season ticket holder for a long time & the teams have always responded to the fans & the noise they bring to the Arena. Let's all go out & support them, I know I will be there.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

If they can't score better than this, it's going to be a long SEC season.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to vol98champ:

I have watched and listened to Vol Ball for over 60 years. Never until this year have I halfway watched a close game. This year I have to have something else to do during most of the games.

Amen. I was at the game and spent more time watching people in stands then the court. I will not be back for another game this year as it is sooooooooo boring.

bigdisbig writes:

This team plays like they are in the Rockytop League. They get out rebounded because everyone wants the ball to shoot on offense. Skyler McBee NEVER follows his shot. He stands outside the 3 point line like his feet are concret. Cuonzo is great at coaching defense but his offensive skills leave much to be desired. His guys seem to have NO plays to run and they turn the ball over WAY too much.

Yes, they won but should have won much easier. They will struggle against the better teams unless they get their act together offensively.
They need to work it inside to Stokes and let him work it. Stokes just needs the ball more. He is the best player who is lost in this pathetic offense.

lomas98 writes:

in response to ole3putt:

Bad, bad basketball. Kevin O'Neils offense would be exciting compared the stuff this group is showing.

O'neill wanted a shot with less than 10 on the shot clock. Martin is pretty liberal in what his players can do offensively. We just don't have the offensive scorers to make the shots. Mcbee missed several wide open shots, McRae and Richardson are just not good shooters, Edwards, chievous, Moore, are non factors, Reese made some open shots tonight, but he missed a lot more. They run an open minded offense, but are severely challenged at scoring.

PUL4VOLS writes:

I see continued Negas on here. Hey man they played hard and they won. Let's go with that.
Glad to see Reese start off well. GO BIG ORANGE!

BubbaTN writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

This team plays like they are in the Rockytop League. They get out rebounded because everyone wants the ball to shoot on offense. Skyler McBee NEVER follows his shot. He stands outside the 3 point line like his feet are concret. Cuonzo is great at coaching defense but his offensive skills leave much to be desired. His guys seem to have NO plays to run and they turn the ball over WAY too much.

Yes, they won but should have won much easier. They will struggle against the better teams unless they get their act together offensively.
They need to work it inside to Stokes and let him work it. Stokes just needs the ball more. He is the best player who is lost in this pathetic offense.

THANK YOU! I'm glad there's someone else out there who doesn't like McBees play. Most of the fans get so excited when he shoots...for what...a brick? I noticed that he doesn't move either on offense or defense. He may be a local kid but that doesn't make him a great player in my book. Time to ride the pine.

GerryOP writes:

in response to BubbaTN:

Yes, we have some ugly wins this year that were losses last year. Not sure that it makes me feel any better. Don't forget that we've been down double digits to almost every small school this year. Shows that UT is playing down to the competition. The good side is that UT could also play with competition. They're going to have to put the ball in the hole to win more games from this point forward.

It appears that in the preseason Coach 'Zo does a lot of "juggling" of the players to see what works. And then all of a sudden after the season starts, we end up #2 in the SEC!

But I agree Bubba, there appear to be a couple of concerns. The lack of a real "shooter" and the "disappearance" of Stokes. We will see what we will see.

ARANGEVOL writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Ugly wins count the same as pretty wins. 8-3 baby, 8-3. One more "preseason" game before the games start counting for real.

Has anyone else noticed that we haven't lost to any Belmonts, Austin-Peays, or Oaklands this year? That's a good thing!

You obviously don't know Belmont.!

tan007 writes:

in response to BubbaTN:

On the bright side, this Team has only lost to OK State, Georgetown and Virginia. All very reputable schools and having good seasons. If we can pull out all of the games that we are favored then it will give us a chance at the dance.

Thank you Bubba for seeing the bright side! That is what I am doing & hoping everyone else will try to also.

UT4prez writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Golden played bad, but remember UT doesn't win without Golden's FT shooting at the end.

No doubt Bear. I'm not hatin. I don't think he should be benched either.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Almost want to say Stokes plays lazy, similar to the way Hall played his first two years. I just don't know if he can learn to play aggressive. That is critical in order for him to reach his potential. Right now, Mack and Kenny are both playing more physical than Stokes. I am also impressed with Reese. Maybe he is the spark we will need for SEC play.

I am really leery of the Memphis squad. They have a lot of excellent players. We need to execute offensively in order to beat them. We will lose by 10 if we play like we did tonite.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

I see continued Negas on here. Hey man they played hard and they won. Let's go with that.
Glad to see Reese start off well. GO BIG ORANGE!

Yes, every UT fan is glad they won! A win is a win. I think most of the fans are beginning to realize this will be short lived success if some items do not improve before SEC Season time.

BubbaTN writes:

in response to UT4prez:

No doubt Bear. I'm not hatin. I don't think he should be benched either.

Exactly. I'd put Golden in the game with 2 minutes remaining. He could become our Free Throw Specialist. He would have time to make a turnover or get burnt defending.

tan007 writes:

in response to BubbaTN:

Amen. I was at the game and spent more time watching people in stands then the court. I will not be back for another game this year as it is sooooooooo boring.

The only thing I saw boring tonight was the halftime performance. I would rather they bring back the dogs that chased the frisbrees.

TopTenn writes:

Just win Vols. Beat tiger high.

born2ride writes:

Two good things.

We won.

We scored over 40 points.

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