Cuonzo Martin on UT's loss at Memphis
MEMPHIS — Tennessee came down with a case of the blues Wednesday night in FedExForum.
Memphis scored a 69-51 men's basketball victory against the Vols, snapping UT's win streak at four games before the rowdy crowd of 18,334.
"Hey Cuonzo! Get used to it!,'' a Tigers fan screamed at Vols coach Cuonzo Martin as time ran out.
Sophomore point guard Trae Golden led the Vols (7-7) with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, but Tennessee was unable to get anything else going. The 51 points represent a season-low for UT, as did the Vols' 36.2 percent shooting (21-of-58).
"When you're not scoring the ball, it gets tough,'' Martin said. "You get mentally bogged down, and all of the sudden you are on your heels.''
Memphis' 18-point victory margin ranks as its third most lopsided win in the history of the 24-game series. The Tigers, 10-14 all-time against the Vols, won by 19 on two occasions, most recently on Dec. 2, 1993.
Memphis improved to 9-5 behind Antonio Barton's 19 points, while center Tarik Black poured in 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds while playing a career-high 36 minutes.
The Tigers' dominance in the paint — 38-22 scoring, 36-26 on the glass — was a turnabout from the teams' meeting on Nov. 22, when Black played only 13 minutes before fouling out with five points.
Memphis scored a 99-97, double-overtime win over the Vols in the EA Sports Maui invitational despite a 32-point, 20-rebound effort from UT power forward Jeronne Maymon.
Maymon had nine
points and nine rebounds Wednesday night, but he was just 4-of-15 shooting.
"The only difference was my shot wasn't falling,'' Maymon said. "My layups were rimming out, and I couldn't find my touch.''
Martin was relatively comfortable at halftime with his team trailing 28-20, as the Vols had shown they could slow down the athletic Tigers to that point.
But Memphis turned up the intensity in the second half, and UT failed to respond.
"I think they out-toughed us,'' Golden said. "We were getting pushed around out there. We can't play soft.''
UT went down by double digits with 12:05 remaining, 46-35, on Ferrakohn Hall's only basket of the game. The Vols failed to cut the lead to single digits the rest of the night.
Tempers heated up with 8:10 left and Memphis up 48-37 when UT freshman Wes Washpun fouled Memphis' Joe Jackson on a drive to the basket.
Washpun landed next to Jackson after the foul, and when Washpun and Jackson got up, Will Barton came over and words were exchanged.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner raced onto the floor to separate the players,while Martin patiently watched his team leave the floor without further incident.
Washpun was whistled for a foul, and he and Will Barton (10 points) also were assessed technical fouls.
"(Wes) fouled him, and maybe walked over; other than that, he didn't touch him,'' Martin said. "I thought Joe actually hit him. But Wes didn't do anything from a physical standpoint outside of the foul.''
Pastner said it was just hard-nosed basketball.
"I just think it was two clubs battling and being competitive; it happens,'' Pastner said. "It's one of those things in the heat of the moment.''
The Vols led only twice in the game, both times in the first half.
Golden put UT up 2-0 at the 18:59 mark, and UT's only other lead came when Maymon scored on back-to-back possessions to put Tennessee up 10-9 with 12:08 left in the first half.
The Tigers answered with an 8-2 run to go up 22-15 on a Chris Crawford 3-pointer with 5:18 left in the half.
UT returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday (TV: ESPN2) against No. 10 Florida (12-3) at Thompson-Boling Arena.