Skylar McBee scores 18; Vols fend off South Carolina, 69-57

Tennessee guard Skylar McBee (13) shoots a three pointer as South Carolina guard Damien Leonard (32) defends during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tenn., Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee guard Skylar McBee (13) shoots a three pointer as South Carolina guard Damien Leonard (32) defends during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tenn., Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Skylar McBee on win over South Carolina

Tennessee made it business as usual against South Carolina on a night that seemed anything but normal in many respects.

The Vols managed to get consecutive SEC men's basketball victories for the first time this season despite facing a rare, exotic defense and changing up their starting lineup and game plan.

Junior Skylar McBee scored a career-high 18 points and Tennessee (12-12, 4-5 SEC) won its 10th straight against the Gamecocks (9-14, 1-8), scoring a 69-57 victory before a crowd of 14,784 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night.

UT coach Cuonzo Martin shuffled his starting five for the fourth time since the start of SEC play and the second game in a row, improving to 4-0 in those games.

Martin also made the game-day decision to use a four-guard lineup at times against the Gamecocks' matchup zone, a defense that presents a different look each time down the floor.

"The sluggish part was just getting adjusted to the matchup zone,'' said Martin whose team trailed by as many as five points early in the game. "We told our guys, just pass and cut through it. Once we settled down and started making the extra pass, I thought this was one of our better games.''

The Vols shot 50 percent from the floor (19 of 38), 50 percent from 3-point range (10 of 20) and 80 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 26) to hold off a late South Carolina rally.

UT's 38 shot attempts were its fewest since Feb. 25, 1997, when the Vols attempted 33 field goals in a 74-64 loss to Kentucky.

Junior Kenny Hall made his first start in SEC play this season, replacing

freshman Jarnell Stokes who suffered a sprained right hand in practice Tuesday. Hall came up big with a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Likewise for sophomore point guard Trae Golden, who missed his first start of the season in last Saturday's 73-62 win over Georgia. Golden scored 14 points and dished out four assists in replacing freshman Josh Richardson in the lineup, as McBee slid over to the shooting guard position. Martin said Stokes could have played if necessary and that his status is day-to-day.

"Jarnell got hurt in practice,'' Martin said. "Competitive practice, guys getting after it.''

That theme carried over into the game, as the Vols held a 15-point lead as late as the 12:34 mark of the second half when Golden scored on a reverse layup to make it 51-36.

South Carolina, which has dropped four games in a row, answered with an 8-0 run that Brenton Williams capped with consecutive 3-pointers en route to his 11-point performance.

The Gamecocks proceeded to press and disrupt the Vols until a Richardson jumper gave UT a 58-50 lead with 4:58 left and ended a 7½-minute drought without a field goal.

"It was a big shot, and not an easy shot to take in that situation for a young guy,'' Martin said. "But he stepped up and made the shot and got us over the hump.''

Richardson's pull-up provided just enough cushion, as the Gamecocks cut the lead to 58-55 with 4:07 left when Bruce Ellington scored on a three-point play on a night he led his team with 12 points.

The Vols held firm, however, as Golden and Jeronne Maymon (12 points) scored on back-to-back three-point plays, and the team went 6-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line during the final three minutes.

"We're learning how to close out games, but it's still something we have to get better at,'' Golden said. "It was huge for us to hold this lead and get this win.''

UT closed the first half on a 14-4 run to take a 35-27 lead into intermission.

McBee fueled the outburst, draining three consecutive 3-pointers before giving way to senior Cam Tatum, who proceeded to make a 3-pointer.

Tatum's basket provided him passage into a select group of 44 Tennessee players who scored 1,000 points in their careers.

It was the smallest UT home crowd since the Vols drew 14,692 in a 74-70 loss to Austin Peay on Dec. 10.

Tennessee returns to action at 4 p.m. on Saturday (TV: WVLT) at No. 8 Florida (19-5, 7-2).

The Vols defeated the Gators in the teams' first meeting, 67-56 on Jan. 7 in Thompson-Boling Arena, in what was both teams' SEC opener.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 89

born2ride writes:

10 wins in a row over the Gamecocks.

wigmeister writes:

Great win. They build a nice lead, and instead of continuing to play in the way they got the lead, they try to slow it down, and take time off the clock. Destroys their rhythm. It happens all the time. They played well overall tonight. McBee was all over the court tonight.

BigHornBuckShot writes:

What is scary is that S. Carolina is terrible, and they almost beat us at home. I had counted the game at S. Carolina a win, but not after tonight. S. Carolina is our best chance to win on the road this year, and now I am really concerned.

oldster writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

What is scary is that S. Carolina is terrible, and they almost beat us at home. I had counted the game at S. Carolina a win, but not after tonight. S. Carolina is our best chance to win on the road this year, and now I am really concerned.

Man, do we Vol fans look at the bad side of everything or what? Enjoy a victory for crying out loud. We haven't had much to cheer for in a few years around here.

HtownVol writes:

Great game.

Tonight Skyler showed why he plays so much. I only wish he could do that versus more talented opponents.

I would like to see much more care with the ball. Way too many turnovers and bad ones at that.

I saw 4 times UT had a 3 on 1 break and did not score on any of them. Why do more players not pull up and take the 7 foot jump shot instead of attempting to dunk when it is obvious it will be a charge? UT would benefit so much if they could work on that.

Still having a very hard time feeding the ball to Maymon. He should touch the ball double what he does.

I liked te offense from Richardson. That is a big bonus when he is hitting shots. He showed some nice ups with his slam tonight. UT will need him to pick up the scoring next season as he will get a lot of Tatums minutes.

Also, the way UT lost the lead was not needed at all. Shooting early in the shotclock and silly turnovers.

But UT is young and learning every night.

I honestly think UT has a great Coach, as soon as we are able to land some big time recruits UT will be back in the top 25. I really hope we can pick up a player in the next class who can flat out score and create his own shot. From what I have seen the 2 commits we have are not very impressive, just another richardson. Dont get me wrong they can be very solid players but we all know that to take it to the next level we have to up the payroll like big blue and shop for some of that NBA flavor. Not really shop (although there is a team 4 hours northwest of Knoxville who dont mind paying for the best). Isnt it funny how a big blue fan can talk smack? When you have a starting 5 of no doubt NBA talent I think they should never lose a game. There is no team on that level talent wise. I just bring this up knowing UT will never have the "resources" to have a roster like that, meaning tradition..

Go Vols,
great game

underthehill writes:

McBee played his best game on offense and defense when the team was struggling...Hall played with more effort than I have seen from him..good job guys...

BR_549 writes:

The Mc"stache" showed why he's the man tonight.

bigdisbig writes:

A win is a win but I had hoped the Vols would have put the Chickens away early. I do hope Stokes will be healthy when we go to their house for they made it much closer here than I expected. With a healthy Stokes in their house hopefully we can finally get a road win.
Its gonna be very difficult to beat the lizards in Gainsville and they will be cranked up for some revenge. The Vols need to be patient and work the boards feeding Stokes and Maymon.

LiveFaith writes:

"Announced" attendance.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to oldster:

Man, do we Vol fans look at the bad side of everything or what? Enjoy a victory for crying out loud. We haven't had much to cheer for in a few years around here.

everything buckshot posts is negative

givehim6 writes:

UT's first back to back SEC win for 2012 Hurray! Can we go on the road and make it 3? Maybe, but at UF think those boys will have blood in there eyes for some pay back, that will be one hostel place. Can UT get BP back for one game? Bruise ownd those gators, all I can say is good luck guys, congrats on the win.

bigdisbig writes:

I wonder if that worthlessass Spurrier was in the house tonight. Hopefully the degenerate went home with his ego tucked between his legs.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you need your head checked

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

S C was hungry for a win, a good performance.......
anything. They worked the ball around and found the open shooters, and it seemed for a while they made almost every shot they took.

Not too proud to take a win, but at one point we were about to blow them out.........then had some problems driving to the basket without looking to see if someone was in their way, thus a bunch of charges. The other problem was passing the ball to someone who was not in a Garnet colored uniform.

The hustle was exceptional........from both teams. Might be wishful thinking to believe we'll hit the 3's as well as we did tonight.

However, some of the shooters just may be finding their range......which is great.

GerryOP writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

What is scary is that S. Carolina is terrible, and they almost beat us at home. I had counted the game at S. Carolina a win, but not after tonight. S. Carolina is our best chance to win on the road this year, and now I am really concerned.

Almost beat us? How does someone "almost" beat us? A game is either won or lost ... not almost lost or almost won. We got the W ... they got the L! How sweet it is! This game goes into the W column.

GerryOP writes:

Our basketVols are playin' 0.500 ball baby. How many of you negaVols are shocked by that?

GerryOP writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

"Announced" attendance.

What's your point? A crowd of 14,784 at TBA on Wednesday night.

RichmondKyVol writes:

in response to BigHornBuckShot:

What is scary is that S. Carolina is terrible, and they almost beat us at home. I had counted the game at S. Carolina a win, but not after tonight. S. Carolina is our best chance to win on the road this year, and now I am really concerned.

We beat them by 12 with one of our best players out with an injury. We should be able to beat them in Columbia, especially if we have Stokes back in the line up. Plus, we continue to get better.

STLVOLS writes:

CCM is a very good coach and not afraid to make adjustments. Imagine a few more pieces of talent how good his teams can be.

GBO

walt23tn writes:

I know we had a lower crowd count tonight, but we are 5th in the nation. If we continue to go out and support our Vols, this could be a nice recruiting tool for Cuonzo. Then we can work on getting a little rowdy, because we definitely need to turn up the intensity. The UNC game tonight was intense throughout. I would love for us to get there eventually.

jt45 writes:

Glad to see them pull off another win, it was getting ugly for awhile in the second half, bad passes were killing us and rebounds were sure going carolina's way for awhile. It was good to see them put the game away down the final stretch. Now I hope they can pull off a sweep of UF

One_in_West_Knox writes:

Kudos to Tatum for reaching 1,000 points, but, for a fifth-year senior, it may have happened much sooner and he could have had a much greater point total at the end of this season.

BolivrBob writes:

Expected and Good win. SC played well with only 7 TO's to our 14. We out boarded them but they had 16 to 9 offensive RB advantage. I like 'Stache and Trae in the backcourt together. We will continue to see zones. We'll get beat Saturday and prolly next Saturday at Bama, but if we can win the rest, including Vandy in Knoxville, it will be a great season. go Vols!

FanNotSheep writes:

I think it's important to remember the Vols won this one without Stokes. Early in the game I didn't think we were going to be able to score enough from outside to stay with them. Then the Irish boys, McRae and McBee, started hitting and turned it around. Also good free throw shooting down the stretch.

Hopefully Stokes gets back soon, as we really struggle to score inside and rebound without him. Hard not to play the what-if game: What if we brought something better than our 'F-game' against Austin Peay? Heck, what if we managed to close out the Duke and Memphis games early in the season? Combine those coulda shoulda wins with the real wins over UF and UConn and UT would be on the NCAA bubble.

taylorsvolfan writes:

Any win over the Shamecocks makes me happy down here in SC !!! Go Vols !!

HazardKYVol writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, I'm not on any UT roster and I'm not a 12 year old boy, but as a two-time graduate of the UT College of Engineering, I do consider myself as a part of the Vol Nation. I look on the Vol Nation as being an extension of any sports team at UT, a 6th man or 12th man, depending on your sport. As that extension, I consider every member of the Vol Nation as a part of "we". If you don't want to be a part of the "we", that is fine, but don't rag on the people that want to be considered a "we".

"Just sayin"

brod writes:

the team played good except for the stretch where they had 5 turnovers in 6 possessions. martin will not be able to wait that long to get things under control against a good team.

NewMarketVol writes:

A win is a win take em one at a time!!

Go Vols!!

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Great game.

Tonight Skyler showed why he plays so much. I only wish he could do that versus more talented opponents.

I would like to see much more care with the ball. Way too many turnovers and bad ones at that.

I saw 4 times UT had a 3 on 1 break and did not score on any of them. Why do more players not pull up and take the 7 foot jump shot instead of attempting to dunk when it is obvious it will be a charge? UT would benefit so much if they could work on that.

Still having a very hard time feeding the ball to Maymon. He should touch the ball double what he does.

I liked te offense from Richardson. That is a big bonus when he is hitting shots. He showed some nice ups with his slam tonight. UT will need him to pick up the scoring next season as he will get a lot of Tatums minutes.

Also, the way UT lost the lead was not needed at all. Shooting early in the shotclock and silly turnovers.

But UT is young and learning every night.

I honestly think UT has a great Coach, as soon as we are able to land some big time recruits UT will be back in the top 25. I really hope we can pick up a player in the next class who can flat out score and create his own shot. From what I have seen the 2 commits we have are not very impressive, just another richardson. Dont get me wrong they can be very solid players but we all know that to take it to the next level we have to up the payroll like big blue and shop for some of that NBA flavor. Not really shop (although there is a team 4 hours northwest of Knoxville who dont mind paying for the best). Isnt it funny how a big blue fan can talk smack? When you have a starting 5 of no doubt NBA talent I think they should never lose a game. There is no team on that level talent wise. I just bring this up knowing UT will never have the "resources" to have a roster like that, meaning tradition..

Go Vols,
great game

Again, the two guys for next year aren't commits, they've signed LOI's so we have no scholarships available next year.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to walt23tn:

I know we had a lower crowd count tonight, but we are 5th in the nation. If we continue to go out and support our Vols, this could be a nice recruiting tool for Cuonzo. Then we can work on getting a little rowdy, because we definitely need to turn up the intensity. The UNC game tonight was intense throughout. I would love for us to get there eventually.

We were there, then made a knee jerk reaction and fired the coach that brought us there over a BBQ sandwhich. We're 5th in the nation in announced attendence, which means there aren't actually that many people in the arena.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Who hasn't beat SC in Columbia? They are 1-8 in league play. I'm pretty sure "we'll" be favored to win.

TheFuj writes:

Take the win and run.
Tatum is just so hard to watch.
McBrick played well last night. He made shots and really hustled. We need that Saturday. If the Mc boys can hit Saturday and Tatum hit a few
3's then we may have a chance.
I bet we get hit with double the fouls as FL Saturday.

FanNotSheep writes:

I read lots of negative comments. Some people seem to want UT to lose and unless you're a fan of another team I can't understand that. Martin is the coach and fans can either support him and hope he can get these talented kids to play harder and smarter, or else just go do something else and quit wasting your time -- and everyone else's.

Stokes has great potential and there's no reason this team can't make some noise next year. Maybe it's too late for more than NIT this year but that is more opportunity for coaching and developing chemistry for the future.

Pearl is gone, and so are Chris Lofton and John Ward and Ernie & Bernie and Ray Mears and all the other reasons many of us became UT basketball fans. But the players are giving it their all for their coach and their school, so instead of making fun of the attendance, why not go and encourage your friends to go? Tickets are available and it doesn't cost a lot to buy them right out on the sidewalk before the tip.

So if you want the numbers to be more accurate, do something about it. And if you want to help the team win, get in there and make some noise.

And if you want the team to lose, go somewhere else.

I supported Coach Pearl, absolutely hated the way it went down and disagreed loudly the whole time, but he is gone and the team is still playing the games. So I had to choose and I chose to be a Vol fan.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Johnny Majors once said after barely beating Whchita State when Whichita's tight end looked up at the crowd and stepped out of bounds with no one near him on a long TD run that would have won the game. A win is a win is a win.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Our basketVols are playin' 0.500 ball baby. How many of you negaVols are shocked by that?

GO, keep in mind that GVX shold be awarded the "Best Troll Magnet" site in the nation.

Hands down.

GBO

VolfanClinton writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

you need your head checked

Martin could be coach of the year in SEC !! Not that much talent on the team.. Pearl could not do as good of a job as this !!

hueypilot writes:

in response to brokendownoldvol:

Johnny Majors once said after barely beating Whchita State when Whichita's tight end looked up at the crowd and stepped out of bounds with no one near him on a long TD run that would have won the game. A win is a win is a win.

Wonder what he said when they lost to Rutgers, Virginia when they were awful, North Texas State and Duke? Probably, ouch!

bosscat writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I read lots of negative comments. Some people seem to want UT to lose and unless you're a fan of another team I can't understand that. Martin is the coach and fans can either support him and hope he can get these talented kids to play harder and smarter, or else just go do something else and quit wasting your time -- and everyone else's.

Stokes has great potential and there's no reason this team can't make some noise next year. Maybe it's too late for more than NIT this year but that is more opportunity for coaching and developing chemistry for the future.

Pearl is gone, and so are Chris Lofton and John Ward and Ernie & Bernie and Ray Mears and all the other reasons many of us became UT basketball fans. But the players are giving it their all for their coach and their school, so instead of making fun of the attendance, why not go and encourage your friends to go? Tickets are available and it doesn't cost a lot to buy them right out on the sidewalk before the tip.

So if you want the numbers to be more accurate, do something about it. And if you want to help the team win, get in there and make some noise.

And if you want the team to lose, go somewhere else.

I supported Coach Pearl, absolutely hated the way it went down and disagreed loudly the whole time, but he is gone and the team is still playing the games. So I had to choose and I chose to be a Vol fan.

Amen.

GONAVY writes:

in response to NewMarketVol:

A win is a win take em one at a time!!

Go Vols!!

amen

GONAVY writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I read lots of negative comments. Some people seem to want UT to lose and unless you're a fan of another team I can't understand that. Martin is the coach and fans can either support him and hope he can get these talented kids to play harder and smarter, or else just go do something else and quit wasting your time -- and everyone else's.

Stokes has great potential and there's no reason this team can't make some noise next year. Maybe it's too late for more than NIT this year but that is more opportunity for coaching and developing chemistry for the future.

Pearl is gone, and so are Chris Lofton and John Ward and Ernie & Bernie and Ray Mears and all the other reasons many of us became UT basketball fans. But the players are giving it their all for their coach and their school, so instead of making fun of the attendance, why not go and encourage your friends to go? Tickets are available and it doesn't cost a lot to buy them right out on the sidewalk before the tip.

So if you want the numbers to be more accurate, do something about it. And if you want to help the team win, get in there and make some noise.

And if you want the team to lose, go somewhere else.

I supported Coach Pearl, absolutely hated the way it went down and disagreed loudly the whole time, but he is gone and the team is still playing the games. So I had to choose and I chose to be a Vol fan.

nice post

Ironcity writes:

Glad we won. Still would like to see a something akin to offense. It would be nice to see UT transition to offense every now and then. Also we play really hard on defense but we never turn anyone over (last night 7 turnovers caused against UGA 5). I am curious why so few?

justafan4ut writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I read lots of negative comments. Some people seem to want UT to lose and unless you're a fan of another team I can't understand that. Martin is the coach and fans can either support him and hope he can get these talented kids to play harder and smarter, or else just go do something else and quit wasting your time -- and everyone else's.

Stokes has great potential and there's no reason this team can't make some noise next year. Maybe it's too late for more than NIT this year but that is more opportunity for coaching and developing chemistry for the future.

Pearl is gone, and so are Chris Lofton and John Ward and Ernie & Bernie and Ray Mears and all the other reasons many of us became UT basketball fans. But the players are giving it their all for their coach and their school, so instead of making fun of the attendance, why not go and encourage your friends to go? Tickets are available and it doesn't cost a lot to buy them right out on the sidewalk before the tip.

So if you want the numbers to be more accurate, do something about it. And if you want to help the team win, get in there and make some noise.

And if you want the team to lose, go somewhere else.

I supported Coach Pearl, absolutely hated the way it went down and disagreed loudly the whole time, but he is gone and the team is still playing the games. So I had to choose and I chose to be a Vol fan.

Amen!

Bubba_Knows writes:

For those of you saying McBee has no business on the court, you were WRONG! Now admit it!

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Wonder what he said when they lost to Rutgers, Virginia when they were awful, North Texas State and Duke? Probably, ouch!

He probably didn't say anything when we lost to North Texas State. Bill Battle was the head coach at the time.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to walt23tn:

I know we had a lower crowd count tonight, but we are 5th in the nation. If we continue to go out and support our Vols, this could be a nice recruiting tool for Cuonzo. Then we can work on getting a little rowdy, because we definitely need to turn up the intensity. The UNC game tonight was intense throughout. I would love for us to get there eventually.

Walt you are NEVER going to see the intensity you see in a DUKE UNC matchup in TBA or anywhere in the country for that matter. You obviously have not been paying attention to this matchup. Tickets were selling for $550 outside the door.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to oldster:

Man, do we Vol fans look at the bad side of everything or what? Enjoy a victory for crying out loud. We haven't had much to cheer for in a few years around here.

Well, THAT guy does. That one stretch where the Vols didn't score for about seven minutes was pretty bad, a capsule demonstration of all the things this team does poorly--sloppy passing, poor shot selection, and failure to secure 50-50 balls. However, the rest of the game, and especially the last three minutes or so, was good enough to compete with any team.

Also, the Vols didn't have Stokes last night. It should not be forgotten that they beat Florida before without him. It will take a great team effort to beat Florida at their place, but then that could be said about this team against any opponent, especially on the road. If the Vols can hold Florida under about 30% from the 3-point line and can get about 30 points from the perimeter themselves, they have a good chance to win, even down there.

It's funny how it has worked out, but it seems that every time Martin has shuffled the starting lineup, the guys replaced play well off the bench.

GerryOP writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Be accurate? I'm just quoting the article ... "...scoring a 69-57 victory before a crowd of 14,784 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night." Quoted.word.for.word.

Picky, picky, picky...

IBAVolFan writes:

in response to Bodeanvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Coach of the year and cannot win a road game. Interesting?

GerryOP writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, who cares how many were there! We won! That's all that matters.

walt23tn writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Walt you are NEVER going to see the intensity you see in a DUKE UNC matchup in TBA or anywhere in the country for that matter. You obviously have not been paying attention to this matchup. Tickets were selling for $550 outside the door.

Listen a**hole, I know all about the rivalry. I know all about college basketball. I know how hard it is to get tickets to that game on Chapel Hill AND Cameron Indoor. I don't need your sarcasm or ignorance because I would like to see our fan base amp it up some. Thanks for the input BUBBA, and your wealth of knowledge when it comes to NCAA basketball rivalries.

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