Mike Strange: Trae Golden still smiling at week's end

Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) shoots over Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) and forward Kenny Gabriel (22) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34) shoots over Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) and forward Kenny Gabriel (22) during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

UT junior forward Jeronne Maymon talks about the Vols' 64-49 win over Auburn

The five fresh stitches in his eyebrow were an emblem of what kind of week it's been for Trae Golden.

He made only two of 11 shots in Tennessee's drubbing at Vanderbilt.

He made only two of nine Saturday night as the Vols ground Auburn into submission 64-49 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

In between, he got sewn up.

"Kenny (Hall) got me with an elbow (Friday) in practice,'' Golden said. "I don't know who's next to injure me.

"First it was Wes (Washpun, for a broken nose in December), then it's Kenny. I'm guessing Jarnell (Stokes) will be next.''

But understand, this was no pity party. Golden was all smiles. Winning cures a lot of ills, including a busted eyebrow and a shooting slump.

To reduce Tennessee's win to a Twitter-sized capsule, here's a sequence from the second half:

Golden misfires. Auburn's Frankie Sullivan airballs a 3-point try. Skylar McBee's 3-pointer misses. Jeronne Maymon grabs the rebound and sticks it in.

There you have it. A lot of misses and a lot of Maymon rebounds.

The Vols missed 38 shots, Auburn 39. Maymon grabbed 19 of UT's season-high 53 rebounds.

If anyone appreciates Maymon's board work at the moment — besides coach Cuonzo Martin, which goes without saying — it's Golden and teammate Cameron Tatum.

Consider Tatum's week. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Vandy and Auburn. Saturday night, he missed all nine tries.

As for Golden, in three games during an eight-day span, he was 4-of-24.

"Ever since I was a child, I've had slumps and then come out the next game and hardly miss,'' Golden said. "It's something I've got to continue to work on because I don't want to be known as a streaky shooter.''

He has been known as a shooter, or a scorer if you will, his entire career. He averaged 32 points in high school. This year he's scored 29 twice.

Now, he's being asked to run a team. He's Tennessee's point guard.

"The team is not going to be helped by me taking 25 shots,'' he said.

He's finding other ways to help the team. In fact, during his mini-slump, the Vols have won twice, beating Connecticut and Auburn.

Martin described Golden's night against Auburn as "solid.''

Frankly, 2-of-9 and four turnovers doesn't sound too solid. But there also was 8-of-8 at the free-throw line to get him to 13 points. Golden hardly ever slumps at the line.

He also was charged with handling Auburn's occasional full-court press and zone defense, which he did for 35 of the 40 minutes.

His current role is an adjustment. Golden has had to rein in his shooting urge — but not too much. There aren't a bunch of guys on this team who can go get a basket like he can.

I wondered if trying to find and walk that line wasn't taking a toll on his confidence.

"It may look like I'm trying to figure out if I should score or pass,'' he said, "but Coach Martin makes it easy on me.

"Him coming here to Tennessee was a dream come true. A lot of our calls are for me to make plays. I have to pick my spots.''

Saturdays at home have been a good spot for the Vols. The past four have produced victories against Florida, UConn and Auburn and a close-call loss to No. 2 Kentucky.

It's the road that's the problem and that's where the Vols are headed Tuesday. Not just any road, either, the road to Rupp Arena.

Golden will have his hands full running a team against Kentucky's shot-swatting defense.

And this will be one of those spots where the Vols need Golden to break out of his slump. Winning when you shoot 34.5 percent against Auburn is one thing. Doing it at Rupp is another.

"You can't allow things like slumps to get in your head,'' Golden said. "Sooner or later those shots are going to fall for me and when they do, it's going to take a lot of pressure off the big guys and off the wings.''

One did fall Saturday. Couple minutes left, the ball came to Golden near the end of the shot clock. He let a 3-pointer rip. Swish.

Felt good, huh?

"Man,'' he said, "you have no idea.''

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 13

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Way to put it on Auburn!

Go Big Orange!

wigmeister writes:

Maymon played great. He was open a lot of times when the guards would or could not get him the ball. He is a warrior on the boards. I hope Stokes is watching and learning. He is the most consistent player we have.

RoadTrip writes:

That was a bad U-gly game. For a long time our guys couldn't buy a bucket while the Barn couldn't even find a bucket to buy. They had 15 points at half time. Balls were bouncing off rims at weird angles, when they were lucky enough to hit a rim. I thought I was watching a middle school game. The Vols only had 4 TO's at half, so they thought they would crank up the bad passes and dribbling some more in the second half to get back on their stupid pace of late. Thank goodness Maymon and Stokes held down the fort inside.

How does the coach for Auburn keep his job? They are awful.

underthehill writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

That was a bad U-gly game. For a long time our guys couldn't buy a bucket while the Barn couldn't even find a bucket to buy. They had 15 points at half time. Balls were bouncing off rims at weird angles, when they were lucky enough to hit a rim. I thought I was watching a middle school game. The Vols only had 4 TO's at half, so they thought they would crank up the bad passes and dribbling some more in the second half to get back on their stupid pace of late. Thank goodness Maymon and Stokes held down the fort inside.

How does the coach for Auburn keep his job? They are awful.

They have 2 recruits for next year rated in the top 100

carbonzip writes:

If the shots are going in, the coach is a genius.

Razor784 writes:

Still not sure why Tatum's starting, McBee is playing way better right now

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Razor784:

Still not sure why Tatum's starting, McBee is playing way better right now

Agreed...Cam is one bundle of struggle and I feel bad for him but he has to quit taking shots...Skylar WILL PLAY A LOT anytime we see that much zone defense...and yes its the right call....he has played great defense lately...just full of hustle...

eb502us#225637 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Agreed...Cam is one bundle of struggle and I feel bad for him but he has to quit taking shots...Skylar WILL PLAY A LOT anytime we see that much zone defense...and yes its the right call....he has played great defense lately...just full of hustle...

Why feel bad for Tatum? The guy is a 5th yr. senior who has been given every opportunity in the world by both Pearl and Martin.

Truth be told, he just has a low BB IQ and for lack of a better way of putting it, is just a complete mental case on the floor. He certainly has the physical abilities and has a nice shot when open, but little else about his game is worthy of many minutes at all.

Personally, I'd like to see Richardson get more of Tatum's minutes because he has the most upside of anyone playing Cam's position.

Sad thing is that once Tatum is gone, we've got his twin brother Jordan McRae ready to squander more valuable minutes while keeping Cam'm memory fresh in our minds.

Taylor writes:

Where was Maymon last year? The kid is a beast and his effort is outstanding! Wow, what a surprise as the kid can play! I really like the defensive effort of this team. They will be fun to watch as they continue to develop.

vol75 writes:

in response to Taylor:

Where was Maymon last year? The kid is a beast and his effort is outstanding! Wow, what a surprise as the kid can play! I really like the defensive effort of this team. They will be fun to watch as they continue to develop.

Agree on the defensive effort. However, would rather sandpaper a bobcat's butt in a phone booth than watch.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

They have 2 recruits for next year rated in the top 100

Not only that, but they have been awful for years. This is Barbee's second year, and believe it or not, they ARE better than last year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to 10seVol85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry I didn't see your post before I wrote mine. Once again, I see we think alike; hope that doesn't offend you!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to vol75:

Agree on the defensive effort. However, would rather sandpaper a bobcat's butt in a phone booth than watch.

No doubt beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but putting this team down for not playing well is like laughing AT your baby when he first tries to walk or feed himself. One should always try to praise effort even if the immediate results aren't always pretty or successful.

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