Trae Golden on loss to Vandy
NASHVILLE — Cuonzo Martin broke out the University of Tennessee's hallowed orange sports coat for Tuesday's game at Vanderbilt.
If not for Martin's patience, the Vols' performance could have easily put their coach in a straight jacket.
The Commodores dominated and led from start to finish, scoring a 65-47 SEC men's basketball victory before a capacity crowd of 14,316 at Memorial Gymnasium.
UT committed a season-high 25 turnovers and shot a season-low 35.3 percent from the floor, including 1-of-10 beyond the 3-point arc.
"You have to be patient," Martin said. "They are getting better and making progress. I don't get caught up in the final score. We played a physical, experienced team tonight."
Tennessee (9-11, 1-4 SEC) faced its largest halftime deficit of the season, 40-21, and trailed by as many as 27 points to Vanderbilt (15-5, 5-1).
The 47 points were a season-low for the Vols, and the 18-point margin of defeat matched the 69-51, Jan. 4 loss at Memphis as the most lopsided of the season.
Junior Jeronne Maymon led the Vols with 15 points and eight rebounds, impressing Martin with his ability to embrace the hostile road environment while many of his teammates faltered.
"That was the most physical game I've played in this year," Maymon said. "I think a couple of guys got rattled."
Freshman Jarnell Stokes wasn't shaken up so much as thwarted. The talented mid-term freshman enrollee had 10 rebounds in his 24 minutes, but he was held to six points on 2-of-5 shooting and turned the ball over seven times.
Stokes also got caught up in a double technical foul with Vanderbilt senior Festus Ezeli with 17:30 left and Vanderbilt up 40-23.
"This will be a good thing for (Stokes)," Martin said, "to go through something like that."
"Something like that" led Martin to empty his bench in search of players willing to put up a fight. Freshman point guard Wes Washpun had three rebounds, two steals and two assists in 13 minutes, and freshman Yemi Makanjuola had seven points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.
"You have to embrace these types of situations; the good ones do," Martin said. "Some guys, they just don't have it. It's in your chest. You have it, or you don't."
Jeffery Taylor led the Commodores with 23 points while John Jenkins finished with 16, his final two coming at the free-throw line with 1:25 left when Makanjuola was ejected for a flagrant foul.
Martin said Makanjuola meant to foul Jenkins to prevent a breakaway, but that, "Yemi wasn't trying to hurt anybody; he's not that kind of guy."
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 9-0 lead by capitalizing on four UT turnovers in the opening 4½ minutes.
The Vols pulled back to 13-8 on a pair of Renaldo Woolridge free throws at the 13:39 mark, but the rally was short lived.
The Commodores went on an 13-0 run, holding UT scoreless on 12 consecutive possessions before Stokes broke the dry spell at the 6:30 mark with a tip-in to cut Vandy's lead to 26-10.
The Commodores took their largest lead of the night, 54-27, with 10:50 left when Dai-Jon Parker hit a 3-pointer to cap an 11-0 run and send the "white-out" crowd into a frenzy.
Vanderbilt asked its fans to wear white shirts in an effort to make the Memorial Gym atmosphere more daunting.
The Vols had gotten as close as 16 in the second half on a pair of Maymon free throws that made it 43-27 with 15:24 remaining.
Maymon played the second half after leaving the game with 29.1 seconds left in the opening half with a neck injury.
"I jammed my neck, and I kinda blacked out," said Maymon, who fell to the floor as the result of the hard foul. "It was a little tingly feeling. I'll get some heat on it tonight."
Martin, meanwhile, likely will bring the heat to the pending film session. UT's perimeter players shot a combined 5-of-28 from the floor, and point guard Trae Golden was 2-of 11 shooting with no assists in 33 minutes.
"It's embarrassing any time you lose by 20 points, whether it's on ESPN or not on TV at all, it's just an embarrassing game," a dejected Golden said. "Then, to hear their fans say, 'this is our state,' we have a lot of pride in our school, and that's something we really took to heart."
UT drops to 0-6 on road, its longest road losing streak since the 2006-07 Sweet 16 team dropped seven straight.
Martin said he plans to wear the orange jacket again when the Vols play host to Vanderbilt in both teams' regular-season finale on March 3 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"We'll see if we wear it again before that," said Martin, who had not previously worn the orange jacket.
Former UT coach Ray Mears started the tradition of wearing the orange sports coat during his tenure (1962-1977), and former coach Bruce Pearl brought the custom back the past six seasons for the games against rivals Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Tennessee returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday (TV: ESPN2) against Auburn (12-7, 2-3) at Thompson-Boling Arena.