Vols lock up first-round bye, 68-61

Tatum's final regular-season game at home 'incredible'

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee players celebrate after defeating Vanderbilt 68-61 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee players celebrate after defeating Vanderbilt 68-61 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.

Cuonzo Martin on the Vols' 68-61 win over Vanderbilt

Tennessee clinched a first-round bye in the SEC tournament, beating Vanderbilt in an emotionally charged rivalry game Saturday afternoon.

The Vols (18-13, 10-6 SEC) disposed of the Commodores (21-10, 10-6) by a 68-61 count to position themselves for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the upcoming SEC men's basketball tournament.

If No. 1 Kentucky wins at No. 16 Florida at noon today, UT gets the No. 2 seed. A win by the Gators drops Tennessee to third heading into the league tournament, which runs Thursday through next Sunday in New Orleans.

"We played hard and competed against a very talented team," said Vols coach Cuonzo Martin, who saw Vanderbilt hand UT a 65-47 defeat in the teams' first meeting on Jan. 24 in Nashville. "Tonight, our guys were ready to play."

Fifth-year wing Cameron Tatum celebrated his 18-point Senior Day performance before the sold-out crowd of 22,172 at Thompson-Boling Arena by kneeling down and kissing the Tennessee logo at center court after time expired.

"That was really my last (regular-season home) game," Tatum said. "(The kiss) was spontaneous ... it was an incredible feeling."

It was UT's fourth straight win and eighth in the past nine games.

Sophomore point guard Trae Golden said it was appropriate Tatum provided the finishing kick against Vanderbilt, which has now lost 12 of its 13 regular-season finales under coach Kevin Stallings.

"There was a lot of emotion today, with it being Cam and Renaldo's (Woolridge) last (regular-season) game," said Golden, who had 17 points, four assists and no turnovers.

"I went over to Cam and gave him a huge hug after the game," he said. "(Tatum's performance) was a signal; he's had so many ups and downs, and to go out the way it did, it was huge."

John Jenkins, the SEC's leading scorer averaging 20.1 points a game entering the day, led the Commodores with 18 points. But Jeffery Taylor, who averaged 17.4, was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting with Tatum his primary defender.

The Vols' big men showed up en force, as well. Jeronne Maymon scored 12 points and freshman Jarnell Stokes added 11 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots despite playing his 28 minutes with flu-like symptoms.

"I woke up last night and my temperature was like, 106 degrees, so I called the trainer and he came over and stayed with me," Stokes said. "The adrenaline kept me going. ... Cam was one of the guys telling me I was going to play today."

UT's key run came early in the second half. The Vols were trailing 33-32 when Golden hit a pair of free throws with 18 minutes left to spark a 9-0 run that gave UT a lead it didn't relinquish.

Tatum was big during the stretch, as he followed Golden's free throws with a double-pump drive that led to a three-point play. Moments later, Tatum buried a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 41-33 at 16:20, inciting the orange-clad crowd and forcing Stallings to call timeout to regroup his senior-laden team.

The Vols led by as many as nine on two occasions, as late as the 7:24 mark when Stokes scored on a give-and-go play with Golden, making it 53-44.

The Commodores drew back within three, 56-53, with 4:14 left on a Taylor drive.

Tatum went right back at Vanderbilt, drawing fouls on the next two possessions and draining four straight free throws to extend the lead to 60-53 with 3:22 left.

The Commodores' final charge came with 47.7 seconds left when Steve Tchiengang hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 63-59.

Golden proceeded to show why he's the SEC's best free-throw shooter (85.6 percent), hitting all four of his free-throw attempts in the final 40 seconds to cap his 8-for-8 day at the line.

UT held a 30-29 lead after a physical first half of play.

Vanderbilt used a 12-1 run, fueled by three consecutive Jenkins 3-pointers, to go up 21-15 at the 8:30 mark. The Vols answered with an 13-2 flurry, capped by a Skylar McBee jumper that made it 28-23 at 2:49. Vanderbilt closed the half on a 6-2 run to tighten the game.

"We have more to prove, we remember where we were picked," said Golden, referring UT being forecast at 11th at SEC Media Day. "We're still playing with a huge chip on our shoulder."

The Vols begin their quest for an NCAA tournament at-large bid on Friday. With the No. 2 seed, UT will play the winner of Thursday's Ole Miss-Auburn game. With the No. 3 seed, the Vols will play at 10 p.m. on Friday against the Mississippi State-Georgia winner.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 300

MikeInTN writes:

Great job Coach Martin and team!!!!!

barefoot43 writes:

Bite me Vandy and Professional Handicapper (all you’re your screen names), Red Beans (all your screen names), Brett, Jeff Flowers (all your screen names)

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say for new trolls usernames. hahaa
Bones never lie.
"semi"-professional handicapper? haha

VolunteerLifer writes:

AWESOME, BBBAAAAAAAABBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

VolGrad writes:

Just an awesome performance by the Martin edition of these BB Vols!!!

Think Orange! Go Vols!!!

clvolfan writes:

WHAT A RUN,WAY TO GO CCM,AND COACH OF THE YEAR.

jt45 writes:

Great game for Tatum to come through big in !
Probably the best game this year for the whole team. The 2 spot in the SEC sure looks better than 11th.

GBO!

tennrich1 writes:

Wow...what a defensive effort from Vols...been watching them for 45 years and have rarely seen a harder working Vol team than this one....Coach Martin is a gem!!! Great game Cam...Stokes with 106 degrees of temp. yesterday and played an impressive game....

Razzle writes:

Great game! Who do whip next?

Wauconda_Vol writes:

Free throws + rebounding + defense = Great win

jt45 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say for new trolls usernames. hahaa
Bones never lie.
"semi"-professional handicapper? haha

Where is ol Handicapper these days ? Must have lost PC betting on his bad predictions.

voloffaith writes:

Bachman Turner Overdrive sang,'taking care of business....' Vols have more work to do...however will enjoy today as they protected the house...

ivyvol writes:

Great job beating our intraInterstate rival.

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

Great D, improved offense, but this team has also learned how to win close games.

barefoot43 writes:

Bite me Vandy and Professional Handicapper (all you’re your screen names), Red Beans (all your screen names), Brett, Jeff Flowers (all your screen names) and anything Vandy

VolGrad writes:

Take it easy on PH. If he has been putting his money where his mouth is, he's probably down at the Welfare office applying for food stamps right now.

Go Vols!

Madkels writes:

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This team is exciting. Here's to hoping they can make a run in the SEC Tourney and play next Sunday!

TNVOLNTX writes:

I don't know if Martin gets SEC COY or not, but no coach has made more of a less than favorable set of circumstances, nor has any other coach done a better job of coaching-up his squad over the course of this season. Amazing stretch run. GBO!

alwaysBorange writes:

Guaranteed no less than 3rd with the Ole Miss victory. Hate to root for Big Blue, but 2nd sure would be nice.

mivol writes:

Great D all especially McBee.. Stokes steps up big D and Cam Tatum lights out. Way to go Vols.

Go Vols!

GoVols_16 writes:

Awesome!! I had very few hopes for this team at the beginning of the year. Kind of reminds me of Dooley's first season--those guys never quit. Oh, that that spirit would return to the gridiron...

GO VOLS!!!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

LOL! Just before the game they released the article talking about "what if Pearl coached this team". 2/3 of the thread was folks bashing Cuonzo. Be interesting to see what they have to say about this. CLUTCH FTs down the stretch! Something we haven't been used to prior to this season.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Great win. Played smart with excellent defense.

Good to see Tatum finally show up and props to Golden for running a good game at point. Now we just need a UF loss so that we can be on the other side of the bracket from UK.

FWBVol writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Take it easy on PH. If he has been putting his money where his mouth is, he's probably down at the Welfare office applying for food stamps right now.

Go Vols!

Don't say that. It's bad enough having to read his garbage on this site. The last thing we need to do is have to support that idiot.

GreySmokey writes:

Great job Vols! Coach Zo, You have my respect and admiration. What a courageous group of young men you have on your team. Big dance or no, great job.

northernvavol writes:

Not sure how the remaining tie-breakers play out with 'Bama's loss, but happy to have that 10th conference win. No worse than 4th I suppose.
Smothering Jenkins and Taylor for most of the afternoon, hitting free throws down the stretch and everyone avoiding 2nd half foul trouble allowing CCM to sub out enough to keep fresh legs on the court made the difference today.
Quality win against a solid, solid team. Vandy will be a tough match-up for someone next week.
Damn nice 5 weeks of basketball from this group!

bigdisbig writes:

Its always a great day when the Vols slam down the Commode Doors!! Way to go Vols. Bama lost and if Fla. loses tonight the Vols should take over 2nd place in the SEC!!! What a great job Martin has done this year.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

great to be a Vol today--the best game of the year on the last day and biggest game of the year----to all the idiots who denounced Hamilton for the Cuonzo hire eat crow, this guy as unflamboyant as he is know Xs and Os and has a bunch of previous street-ballers playing disciplined ball with a purpose as a team----best D I have seen in years---------Cam, who I've been down on all year played his best game as a Vol on Senior nite, Golden was great--an automatic on free throws even if he closed his eyes, Stokes was great, Maymon was great---just a great team effort led by a great coach, give that man a raise!!!!!!!!!!!!!

barefoot43 writes:

This is a solid TEAM. They are not great but they are solid. They are definetly a top 68 team. The early losses are bad but they have worked their behinds off to get to this point. CCM is a keeper. Pay him big and tie him up for a long time, schools will be coming after him.

richvol writes:

What a brilliant,brilliant game by Trae Golden. The game end drive into the paint and dish to Maymon for a layup was tremendous. I am so proud of these guys. Great game by Tatum and great defense by McBee.

jimr07 writes:

How many of you remember the ragging hamilton took for hiring Marting?

pingkr62 writes:

AWESOME WIN!!! What a season, what a team, and what a head coach!!! A great way to end the regular season with a win over HATED Peabody College. Coach Martin should be awarded S.E.C. coach of the year. G.B.O.!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Congratulations to the team, the staff, and that awesome crowd.

Vandy...........notice what happens when you don't play in the movie theater? 22,000 plus, awesome.

Finally, a last word to the trolls. Now, can you finally see how utterly stupid you have sounded running your mouths........not being able to back up your obnoxious predictions?????????

The usual trolls such as the un-professional/handicapped know it all........looking quite silly and red faced today. Best advice.........give it up trying to sound as if you know something about that which you ramble.

tenndave writes:

I loved Bruce Pearl but he is gone. Coach Martin is the man and has proven he can take us to heights we have never seen before. What a class man, great coach, and makes everyone proud to be a VOL FAN! Stokes was the missing piece but the defense this man instills in the team makes them a team to be feared. I still think we need at least 1-2 more wins but whatever happens the team we have now is not the team we had in Dec. NIT OR NCAA? Right now who cares. What we saw in team growth makes us all excited about the future.
GO VOLS!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

March 3, 2012
10:40 a.m.
Suggest removal
Reply to this post
VolzsFan writes:
"More stupid comments from the galaxtically stupid posters as well as a nerd writer.

-First, they went to 6 straight NCAA tournaments. One for every year.
-They did make the schools first Elite Eight. They where one point from the Final Four.
-He said they would be in the SEC's top 3. If they win today they will be 2nd.
-The ignorance of fans and writers saying this is a rag time bunch is a joke. Virtually every player on the team was a 4 star and top 100 recruit. This is not even close to making lemons out of lemonade.
-Stokes was a silent commit to Pearl and he has said that. To think he would not be here is just ignorance.
-Tobias and Scotty might have came back. With that no skills Maymon out of the way and better skilled players in, they would have been a top 3 seed.
-Pearl did more with UT basketball than anyone in school history by a mile. He took what was considered a coaching graveyard and showed that it can be an elite program. One of the VERY few to reach 6 straight NCAAs. Finish in the top 5 in attendance. Have as many Sweet 16s as just about any other school in America during that stretch.
-Our fans seem to cuss the success of the best coaches this school has seen and applaud the guys going 500. That is why this is the dumbest fan base in America.
-I like Martin and think he will do well. He will not do as well as Pearl when he was left a program full of 4 star top 100 kids and a new legacy to the program including the best facilities in America. Just like no one again in UT history will ever do or come close, to the success of the Great Hall of Famer Phil.

The stupidity of the vocal minority of Vol Fans makes it very embarrassing to be a fan.

Enjoy the change!!LOL!!
..."

Hey VOLZFANZ I'm loving this change!

VandyisGold writes:

Congratulations to the vols and their fans. What a tremendous effort. Best defense we have seen all year. I'll say it again, Martin was a great hire. Good luck in the tourney.

orangepeel writes:

I have to eat crow about the job Coach Martin has done this year. I did not believe we would win 10 games all year much less go 10-6 in SEC play. Great job and thanks for proving me wrong.

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Don't say that. It's bad enough having to read his garbage on this site. The last thing we need to do is have to support that idiot.

He deserves to get shredded. All he does is plagiarize Accuscore.com as if it's his own research. For $49.00 per month, anyone here can be like Brett (Handicrapper), copy and paste from Accuscore, and prove themselves to be just as ignorant. I hope like heck he bet the bank on his UT predictions for this year.

FanNotSheep writes:

Hard to believe a 10-6 SEC record is not Coach of the Year for Martin after the media consensus was 4-12 and 11th place. Where was Kentucky picked to finish? First you say? Wow, what a surprise.

This second-half surge has been as much fun as anything the basket-Vols have done and so badly needed with all the negatives swirling around. This team should get a parade through town, no matter what else happens. And the guy who should be COY should be leading the parade. Just a great job all the way around. The coaches, the players who learned their roles, found confidence and a young man with a bright future who gutted out sickness and injuries… what else could Big Orange fan ask for? I'm Stoked!

barefoot43 writes:

in response to jimr07:

How many of you remember the ragging hamilton took for hiring Marting?

I remember

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to orangepeel:

I have to eat crow about the job Coach Martin has done this year. I did not believe we would win 10 games all year much less go 10-6 in SEC play. Great job and thanks for proving me wrong.

You are to be commended. Most of the outspoken detractors, I assure you, are furiously attempting to create a new screen name at the moment. I didn't have a problem with the hire, even so, I didn't expect him to do this well with this team.

justafan4ut writes:

GOOOOOOOOOO BIGGGGGGGGGGGG ORANGEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

pingkr62 writes:

in response to tenndave:

I loved Bruce Pearl but he is gone. Coach Martin is the man and has proven he can take us to heights we have never seen before. What a class man, great coach, and makes everyone proud to be a VOL FAN! Stokes was the missing piece but the defense this man instills in the team makes them a team to be feared. I still think we need at least 1-2 more wins but whatever happens the team we have now is not the team we had in Dec. NIT OR NCAA? Right now who cares. What we saw in team growth makes us all excited about the future.
GO VOLS!

Team discipline goes a LONG WAY, regardless of the sport. Hint-hint. G.B.O.!!!

AtopTheHill06 writes:

Inspiring Win today Vols! If uk wins and Tenn gets the 2 seed. Then we play the winner of ole miss vs. auburn, that would be the best match up for the Vols. Considering the 3 seed plays the winner off uga vs. miss st.

Does anybody know the last time that the SEC regular season runner-up didn't make the Big Dance?
I can't recall it happening.

TopTenn writes:

I'm so proud of this team. GBO!

thevoice writes:

I love my Vols. Especially happy for C Tatum.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

March 3, 2012
12:30 p.m.
Suggest removal
Reply to this post
OwensboroVol writes:

Be careful! Don't you know that the posters on this board have no stomach for the truth. The fact is, C. Martin could not be a graduate assistant for Bruce Pearl. Had Bruce received the support that the University secretly gave to Lane Kiffin he would still be Coach and We would be looking at another run deep into the NCAA Tournament. Not only did Burce Pearl win, but His brand of Basketball was enjoyable to watch and brought the fans out. I, too, like Martin, but he was not ready for this job and had to learn. This cost this team a sure bid to the NCAA. They are coming along, but I will be interested to see how they compete against top notch competition. Bruce Pearl borrowed a saying from Ray Mears which went something like anyone, any place, any time. Somehow, that doesn't seem to be the case any longer at UT, in Football or Basketball.
...

Hey Owensboro...you look like a real genius right about now.

UT4prez writes:

in response to jt45:

Great game for Tatum to come through big in !
Probably the best game this year for the whole team. The 2 spot in the SEC sure looks better than 11th.

GBO!

You say this is the best game they have played all season and it is certainly close to the best if not the best. What I love is they could still play better. Poor 3 point shooting for example. Still some bad shots from time to time. I only say that because they could possibly have a better game on the horizon. Can you imagine that? I hope we save it for UK. Unbelievable season. Not even KY fans could argue if Martin gets coach of the year just like we couldn't if Cal gets it. I can't wait for next Friday!

TNVOLNTX writes:

in response to thevoice:

I love my Vols. Especially happy for C Tatum.

Agreed. Great Senior Day performance out of Tatum. Hit some big shots, made great decisions on his drives, and knocked down free-throws.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

You are to be commended. Most of the outspoken detractors, I assure you, are furiously attempting to create a new screen name at the moment. I didn't have a problem with the hire, even so, I didn't expect him to do this well with this team.

Yea, the trolls are back under the bridge for the moment. That's why they're called trolls.

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