Jeronne Maymon didn't want to hear about being the lone bright spot in Tennessee's 65-47 men's basketball loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.
Instead, the rugged 6-foot-7, 265-pound junior power forward had a message for his team after the embarrassing loss.
"We just all have to be tougher,'' said Maymon, who scored a team-high 15 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had a steal and a blocked shot. "On the road, we don't bring the same energy as we do at home.''
Maymon has established himself as the Vols' most consistent player, and by doing so, emerged as the team's leader.
"Jeronne embraces a stage like this, he's fine,'' said UT coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team dropped to 0-6 in road games. "You have to have other ones that go with him.''
The Vols (9-11, 1-4 SEC) have three days of preparation to get ready for their next game on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.) against Auburn (12-7, 2-3) in the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena.
Due in large part to Maymon's hustle and defense, the Vols out-rebounded Vanderbilt 40-32, and out-scored the Commodores in the paint, 28-26.
Maymon's counterpart in the paint, freshman Jarnell Stokes, had the roughest outing of his young career, gathering 10 rebounds, but was held to six points and turned the ball over seven times.
Martin didn't appear concerned and went as far to say it was good for Stokes to face such adversity.
Maymon wasn't complaining, either, merely offering advice to Stokes, who has only played in four games since graduating high school early, in December.
"(Jarnell) wasn't used to the physicality,'' Maymon said. "He has to get his elbows up. His turnovers were in the paint when they were swiping the ball from him.''
The Commodores scored 30 points off of 25 UT turnovers and beat the Vols in fast-break points to the tune of 15-0.
Vanderbilt guards Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins struck for 23 and 16 points, respectively.
In fact, all of the Commodores' guards combined on an efficient 14-of-24 shooting night, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, while the Vols' perimeter players were 5-for-28 from the floor and 1-of-7 beyond the 3-point arc.
UT sophomore point guard Trae Golden, one of four first-year starters, wore a look of exaspera
tion after the game.
"I wouldn't even say they were suffocating us ... they really didn't play a pressure defense,'' said Golden, who was 2-of-11 shooting with no assists in 33 minutes. "They were just compact. They held us to one shot, and got the ball and made great plays in transition, executing in the half court, back-dooring us and stuff like that.
"The turnovers piled up, one after another, and it ended up being at 25.''
UT freshman guard Josh Richardson, who was 1-of-5 shooting with two assists and three turnovers in 23 minutes, accompanied Martin to the post-game press conference.
"We didn't play to our potential at all, and we just talked about that in the locker room,'' said Richardson, who also had a difficult time checking the Vanderbilt guards. "But Jeronne stepped up a lot as a leader, making plays and emotionally. He was playing better than all of us.''
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32