Jarnell Stokes on loss to Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. — Cuonzo Martin was at loss to explain Tennessee's season-high 20 turnovers at Georgia on Wednesday night.
But the men's basketball coach was looking forward to what he referred to as "the next phase" after the Vols dropped a 57-53 overtime loss to Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum.
"The next phase is to get Jarnell (Stokes) and Jeronne (Maymon) together in practice getting reps,'' Martin said. "A lot of times Jeronne and Jarnell are going against each other in practice, we just got to get those guys playing together on the same (practice) team.''
Tennessee (8-10, 1-3 SEC) returns to action Saturday (TV: WVLT, 4 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena against 13th-ranked Connecticut (14-4), the defending national champion.
Stokes had 11 points and eight rebounds in the first road game of his career against the Bulldogs (10-8, 1-3), playing 26 minutes. Maymon had 12 points and eight rebounds in his 31 minutes on the floor.
"I definitely thought we did good together, but we could have done better,'' said the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Stokes, who scored nine of his 11 points during the final 8½ minutes of regulation. "In practice, it will be a lot better. I felt there were more plays I could of made for him, and more he could of made for me tonight.''
The 6-7, 265-pound Maymon has taken Stokes under his wing since the mid-term freshman enrollee began practicing with the team on Jan. 9.
"We try to find each other when we're out there together and look for each other,'' Maymon said. "We're a tough matchup.
"Jarnell just has to get comfortable finding his shots in the offense.''
Point guard Trae Golden said he can see how having the massive Maymon and Stokes combination on the floor together could affect opponents.
"I know as a guard I'd think twice about driving in there,'' Golden said. "Those are two bruisers.''
Martin likes the pressure Stokes and Maymon will put on opponents' defenses, too.
"They both demand the double team around the basket,'' Martin said, "so now it's getting them to play together in practice.''
Stokes' Take: Stokes said he didn't notice too much of a difference playing on the road, outside of not hearing any cheers after he made baskets.
"That's different ... but I don't want to make any excuses,'' said Stokes, who was 5-of-9 shooting. "I just didn't make shots I was supposed to make.''
Stokes did go on a 5-0 run to put the Vols up 40-35 heading into the final minutes.
"It was definitely a momentum swing; we were supposed to close it out, but we didn't,'' Stokes said. "We definitely were supposed to win this game, with the momentum we had, we felt we were going over the top. We have a lot more work to do, but I'm looking forward to playing UConn.''
Connecticut was one of five schools Stokes narrowed his choices down to, along with Memphis, Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas.
Shooting Woes: The Vols made only seven of 14 free throws against the Bulldogs. UT is 38-of-62 (61.2 percent) from the line since the start of SEC play.
The Vols also struggled against the Bulldogs from beyond the 3-point arc, connecting on just two of 15 shots (13.3 percent). It was UT's worst 3-point shooting game since going 0-for-8 in a 77-67 loss to Duke on Nov. 21 at the Maui Invitational.
The only consolation was Georgia shot even worse, finishing 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) shooting the three.
Disappointed Golden: Golden, who had one assist and three turnovers in the 37 minutes he played against Georgia, struggled to find the words to explain the loss.
"I definitely thought we had it won (when UT was up 40-35 with five minutes left), and the game was in our hands,'' Golden said. "A couple of costly turnovers hurt us; they were very disappointing. To have 20 turnovers and two assists in the game, that's not a good night.''
Golden didn't practice with the team on Tuesday after turning his left ankle in Monday's practice, but Martin said he didn't think that was a factor.
"He was shooting the ball fine, so it must not have bothered him too much,'' Martin said.
Georgia Vols Struggle: It wasn't a good night for Georgia high school products Cam Tatum, Kenny Hall or Jordan McRae, either.
Tatum was 3-of-9 shooting for 6 points and had five turnovers, Hall was 1-of-1 shooting with three rebounds and three turnovers in 21 minutes, and McRae was 0-for-2 shooting with a turnover in 10 minutes.