MEMPHIS — Jeronne Maymon said Tennessee was upset leaving the floor at the FedExForum on Wednesday night and anxious to get back to Knoxville and get back to work.
"We can't go nowhere but up,'' Maymon concluded.
It's possible Maymon hasn't seen tape of the Vols' next opponent, 13th-ranked Florida.
Memphis' 69-51 runaway men's basketball victory against Tennessee (7-7) doesn't bode well for the Vols' 11 a.m. game Saturday (TV: ESPN2) against the Gators (12-3) in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Florida is just as quick and talented on the perimeter as the Tigers (9-5), and even bigger inside.
As much as UT's perimeter defense seemed to improve in the first half of Wednesday night's game, there were still breakdowns offensively and defensively.
Trae Golden, while enjoying a productive 22-point night, had five turnovers and struggled to keep up with Memphis' Antonio Barton (19 points).
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin said that, as important as it is for UT to score from the perimeter, his team is at its best when the ball gets fed inside.
"We have to do a better job of posting up and getting the ball inside, but also, executing the offense,'' Martin said following Wednesday night's defeat. "We have to be more aggressive on the blocks, really defending.''
Maymon had nine points and nine rebounds, but UT starting center Kenny Hall scored only four points and didn't get a rebound in his 20 minutes on the floor.
Vols sophomore shoot
ing guard Jordan McRae was limited to two points and 15 minutes, and he managed only one rebound. Senior wing Cam Tatum played 28 minutes and had five points but only one rebound, and shooting guard Skylar McBee was 0-for-5 shooting from the floor and garnered no rebounds in his 16 minutes.
"We won this game with defense and rebounding,'' Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "And, we also won the 50-50 balls. You have to win the 50-50 balls and hustle plays, and we did that.''
Martin has preached defense and effort, but despite his best intentions, the Vols have struggled to meet his expectations.
"Tonight we got blown out,'' Golden said, "but we learned a lot from this game.''
Stokes Decision: Martin said he allowed mid-term signee Jarnell Stokes to sit on the team bench Wednesday night because the 17-year-old Memphis product wanted to.
"He's on the team now,'' Martin said. "He wanted to be there with us.''
Stokes' transcript was approved by the NCAA eligibility center (also known as the NCAA Clearinghouse) on Wednesday. Stokes also has enrolled in classes at UT, so he's eligible to practice with the team.
Martin said the Vols are just waiting for "the SEC to sign off" before Stokes can play in games.
Stokes turns 18 years old on Saturday, when UT plays host to Florida — one of the five schools he narrowed his decision to in the recruiting process.
"We're anxious to get him in a UT uniform,'' Maymon said, "and hopefully get this train rolling.''
MIke Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mikegriffith32