Vols advance in NIT, 65-51

NIT losing streak snapped at four games

Cuonzo Martin on win against Savannah State

Skylar McBee is best known for hitting 3-pointers, but on Tuesday night the former walk-on from Grainger County showed another reason he’s in the starting lineup.

McBee epitomized the defensive fire that first-year Tennessee men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin emphasizes as the Vols’ equaled last season’s win total with a 65-51 win over Savannah State in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament before a rowdy crowd of 6,289 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

UT (19-14), which snapped a four-game NIT losing streak that dated back to 1992, plays host to Middle Tennessee State (26-6) in the second round of the NIT on a yet-to-be-determined date. The Blue Raiders beat Marshall (21-14) on Tuesday in Murfreesboro, 86-78.

“Anytime you’re playing in March, I think it’s special,” said McBee, a junior shooting guard who grew up a Vols fan and turned down scholarship offers to walk-on before earning a scholarship after his freshman season. “We’re in this to win, no matter what tournament it is and no matter what game it is.”

UT won its eighth straight home game despite playing without second-team All-SEC forward Jeronne Maymon, who missed his first start on account of a bruised knee suffered in the Vols’ 74-69 overtime win at LSU on Feb. 29.

“You’re talking about an all-league player, a guy who rebounds, a guy who posts really strong, a guy who helps facilitate the offense,” Martin said. “You’re talking about your team leader.”

Martin said Maymon, who averages 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, will be evaluated day-to-day.

“You can’t lose a guy of that magnitude and think you’re going to click on all cylinders,” Martin said. “Some of the other guys had to step up.”

Jarnell Stokes led the team with 13 points, Trae Golden had 11, Josh Richardson had 10 and Yemi Makanjuola had 10 points and eight rebounds in his first career start.

Each of McBee’s three 3-pointers was greeted by a loud ovation, but the biggest crowd outburst came with 6:21 left and UT up 51-39 on the Tigers (21-12).

McBee got into a heated loose-ball scrum with Savannah State’s Preston Blackman and wound up tearing the ball away as the refs charged in to prevent further incident. The teams were sent to their benches as officials reviewed video before play resumed with no fouls called.

“I’m out there to battle; it’s part of my job to bring toughness to our team,” McBee said. “My brother is about 6-5 and 280 (pounds), so I’ve had a lot of practice wrestling around with him.”

UT jumped to a 10-0 lead and led wire-to-wire, but the game wasn’t without its anxious moments.

Maymon’s absence, combined with the suspension of center Kenny Hall, left the Vols thin on the front line.

The Tigers, led by Rashad Hassan’s 20 points and 14 rebounds, found soft spots in the paint and went on a 9-0 run to draw within 35-33 with 14:31 left to play.

The Vols, fired up by the crowd, responded with a 10-2 run to go back up by double digits. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champs didn’t get closer than seven for the remainder of the game.

UT led by as many as 17 before taking a 32-24 lead into the half.

“We put ourselves in the hole ... we had to burn a lot of energy to get back to where we were,” Tigers coach Horace Broadnax said. “The crowd got into it ... made it kind of tough for us to hear and execute some of the things we needed to do. That is probably the little punch they needed to get them over the hump.”

The NIT quarterfinals take place March 20-21 before the final four teams advance to play in the semifinals and finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 27 and March 29.

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

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Comments » 140

smokeyvol1 writes:

And I thought Bob Kessling was bad!

jt45 writes:

Good job finishing this one !

underthehill writes:

..have to play much better to win next game...

1vavolfan writes:

Any win is good but need to bring more against MTSU or we will be out. Stokes was terrible on defense tonight but Yemi did a nice job filling in for Maymon. Nice to see the local rednecks filling the donor seats instead of the geriatric zombies that usually fill them. I sat in Sec 118 for the Vandy game and some of the oldsters were leaving with the game tied and 3 minutes left to beat traffic.

CoverOrange writes:

Stokes got repeatedly schooled.

born2ride writes:

I have seen larger crowds for roller derby.

VOLliven2it writes:

It was a good win but yes, they will need to BRING IT harder in the next game. We assume that will be MTSU. Those long dry non-scoring spells need to cease. I am certain Maymon was missed but some of those shots...well looked like early in the season play. But we move on and I would love to see us get that 20th win when ever the next game is played. GO BIG ORANGE, BRING IT WITH ALL YOU HAVE!

etu_vol_fan writes:

I've seen larger crowds for USA Championship Wrestling in the Civic Coliseum.

AllVols16 writes:

Nice to see McBee going hard even after the whistle! Need to keep our foot on the gas the entire game even when were leading by double-digits! Go Big Orange

givehim6 writes:

Want to go to the Garden!

farmdog (Inactive) writes:

Should have played the ball girls in this one. Goodness, even Chattanooga (don't confuse John Shulman with John Wooden) beat these clowns.

NashvillePreds writes:

Win and advance

jamgod writes:

in response to born2ride:

I have seen larger crowds for roller derby.

That's UT fans for ya'! Way to good for the NIT! Way to support your team fans! This is why our teams are not bringing home what we all want to see. Because all the Tenn fans really want to do is moan and grip and complain when we lose at something or whatever. The most fickle, usleless fanbase in America!! Why don't you start showin up and supporting the team for crying out loud or would you just rather complain about how things don't quite go your way sometimes????? SUPPORT THE TEAM AND CHEER AND CLAP OR WHATEVER.....It is time we started acting like real fans and show up at the games and rooting the guys on to winning more instead of complaining so much!!

VolGrad writes:

Tennessee vs Middle Tennessee next.

Go Vols!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Those wanting more from this team need to get off their azzes and show up to support them. I don't know who ticked me off more....The PATHETIC refs (and I mean PATHETIC), or those who won't pay $10 to watch these boys play. 6,000 fans at the game????? Looks like the fans quit on this team if you ask me. Then they have the nerve to question their effort.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to jamgod:

That's UT fans for ya'! Way to good for the NIT! Way to support your team fans! This is why our teams are not bringing home what we all want to see. Because all the Tenn fans really want to do is moan and grip and complain when we lose at something or whatever. The most fickle, usleless fanbase in America!! Why don't you start showin up and supporting the team for crying out loud or would you just rather complain about how things don't quite go your way sometimes????? SUPPORT THE TEAM AND CHEER AND CLAP OR WHATEVER.....It is time we started acting like real fans and show up at the games and rooting the guys on to winning more instead of complaining so much!!

No doubt! What an embarrassment! It was only $10 and you could sit where you wanted. I felt bad for our guys to come out to an empty stadium. Real bad.

brokebackvol writes:

I too am very disappointed in such a pitiful show of attendance. Don't be surprised if there are more MTSU fans than VOLS fans at the next one.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

MTSU is next officially. Go Raiders. Well till the game starts at UT. GBO then.

1vavolfan writes:

All of you guys complaining about attendance. Why weren't you there? I live near Bristol and couldn't get down because of work but I will be at the MTSU game.If you post 30 minutes after the game is over, obviously you weren't there.Cutting on the fans for staying home while you sit at home on your arses posting on the computer.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

All of you guys complaining about attendance. Why weren't you there? I live near Bristol and couldn't get down because of work but I will be at the MTSU game.If you post 30 minutes after the game is over, obviously you weren't there.Cutting on the fans for staying home while you sit at home on your arses posting on the computer.

I'm not a computer whiz but I thought a person could post from about anywhere nowadays?

TkelynN writes:

Before you all get too anxious about complaining of fan support, you need to realize that the University has other sports and events that were taking place at the same time. Baseball, softball, and those loyal lady Vol basketball followers were all out supporting their teams. That can explain several thousand seats, the rest of the fans, such as those with kids realized it was a late game on a school night. Just a bad culmination of things led to the poor attendance. I was there yelling and clapping as loud and proud as I could though! Go Vols, get another W!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

All of you guys complaining about attendance. Why weren't you there? I live near Bristol and couldn't get down because of work but I will be at the MTSU game.If you post 30 minutes after the game is over, obviously you weren't there.Cutting on the fans for staying home while you sit at home on your arses posting on the computer.

I was there. I live 15 minutes North of campus, so it's not impossible for me to post shortly after the game. Ever heard of an I-phone? Not impossible to blog from TBA if one chooses to. Nobody said you had to drive 2 hours. I'd be willing to bet one thing... Most of the ones complaining about the teams play, are probably the ones who were not there. There are 400,000 people in Knox County. You can say what you want, but 6,000 is pretty sad.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Stokes got repeatedly schooled.

STOKES IS A BARELY 18 YR OLD TRUE FROSH! To make matters worse, he was all alone down low. The Vols had no other big men with significant experience. Maymon didn't play tonight and Kenny Hall has been suspended, if Maymon and Hall hadn't played all season this is how Stokes would have looked. He had no help! It's not he's Kevin Love down there yet, he's still learning and without Maymon and Hall out there he's going to learn a little faster. These NIT games are great for the VERY VERY YOUNG Vols.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to TkelynN:

Before you all get too anxious about complaining of fan support, you need to realize that the University has other sports and events that were taking place at the same time. Baseball, softball, and those loyal lady Vol basketball followers were all out supporting their teams. That can explain several thousand seats, the rest of the fans, such as those with kids realized it was a late game on a school night. Just a bad culmination of things led to the poor attendance. I was there yelling and clapping as loud and proud as I could though! Go Vols, get another W!

Yeah I hear ya. But I go to most of the baseball games and hardly anyone shows for those. The fans are far more loyal for the girls sports though, I'll give you that.

iowavol writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

All of you guys complaining about attendance. Why weren't you there? I live near Bristol and couldn't get down because of work but I will be at the MTSU game.If you post 30 minutes after the game is over, obviously you weren't there.Cutting on the fans for staying home while you sit at home on your arses posting on the computer.

I wasn't there because I live in Wisconsin. But, 8,000 fans at most schools are one of two things:

1) not quite as large as most of the fans the camera seemed to find
2) not quite as lethargic as most of the fans the camera seemed to find.

I will admit that whoever was physically capable of standing and yelling must have been because it did get a little louder at the end of the game. But what a total embarrassment to see some fat man or woman with their arms resting on their huge bellies during the heat of the game. Even if you don't have enough self respect to not let yourself get so obese, have a enough pride to get into the game. Geez, Martin must be a heck of a recruiter.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

in response to Bodeanvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Vols didn't even need Stokes to continue their basketball dominance over Florida and beat the Gators again twice this season...Stokes only played a total of thirteen minutes in BOTH WINS OVER THE GATORS combined.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to iowavol:

I wasn't there because I live in Wisconsin. But, 8,000 fans at most schools are one of two things:

1) not quite as large as most of the fans the camera seemed to find
2) not quite as lethargic as most of the fans the camera seemed to find.

I will admit that whoever was physically capable of standing and yelling must have been because it did get a little louder at the end of the game. But what a total embarrassment to see some fat man or woman with their arms resting on their huge bellies during the heat of the game. Even if you don't have enough self respect to not let yourself get so obese, have a enough pride to get into the game. Geez, Martin must be a heck of a recruiter.

Dude, you should have came from Wisconsin.....LOL, just kidding. I understand that many folks can't come. But 6000 is crazy, especially with all of the "I'm a better vol fan than you" talk I'm always hearing. Oh well, it is what it is.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

I was there. I live 15 minutes North of campus, so it's not impossible for me to post shortly after the game. Ever heard of an I-phone? Not impossible to blog from TBA if one chooses to. Nobody said you had to drive 2 hours. I'd be willing to bet one thing... Most of the ones complaining about the teams play, are probably the ones who were not there. There are 400,000 people in Knox County. You can say what you want, but 6,000 is pretty sad.

Yeah heard of them and realize you can post from anywhere, just don't see too many of the whiners on here actually going to the games, and don't see too many people posting on an iphone while sitting in traffic. I would about as soon have 6000 making noise as 20,000 sitting on their hands and leaving early regardless of the score like many of those in donor seating.

Aussievol writes:

Who are these morons complaining about fan support. UT again ended up in the top 5 in attendance numbers only behind such schools as Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, UNC. Notice something similar about those teams. All in the tournament and 3 are No. 1 seeds. The Vols don't even make the Big Dance, looked gawd-awful for half a season, but the support is still there. Yes I know the numbers are skewed by season ticket holders, but everyone's are. Tonight's support seemed relative to the importance of the game. There is a reason they sell the tickets as general admission for $10.

UTMaster04 writes:

My excuse for not being there is living 700 miles away. However, I know there isn't that much to do in Knoxville on a Tuesday night. Wait, did the Icebears play tonight?

tuvol4u (Inactive) writes:

Actually, the fan complaints are justified. I watched the game on esp3(live in another state) and actually heard the crowd. If its the "$10 crowd" of 6000 making that kind of noise then the normal wine and caviar crowd should be ashamed and needs to stay out of TBA, especially when they leave halfway through the second period. Worst fan support, im ashamed to say, is what we have

oldster writes:

It is rare that a team that plays such a slow-paced offense turns the ball over as often as this one. Glad about the win, but the sloppy offense gives doubt about further wins or, even, offensive progress.

oldster writes:

in response to jamgod:

That's UT fans for ya'! Way to good for the NIT! Way to support your team fans! This is why our teams are not bringing home what we all want to see. Because all the Tenn fans really want to do is moan and grip and complain when we lose at something or whatever. The most fickle, usleless fanbase in America!! Why don't you start showin up and supporting the team for crying out loud or would you just rather complain about how things don't quite go your way sometimes????? SUPPORT THE TEAM AND CHEER AND CLAP OR WHATEVER.....It is time we started acting like real fans and show up at the games and rooting the guys on to winning more instead of complaining so much!!

You guys need to make up your minds! You complain when us "oldsters" show up and, again, when we don't. Just cannot make you happy, huh?

GreeneVol writes:

in response to Aussievol:

Who are these morons complaining about fan support. UT again ended up in the top 5 in attendance numbers only behind such schools as Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, UNC. Notice something similar about those teams. All in the tournament and 3 are No. 1 seeds. The Vols don't even make the Big Dance, looked gawd-awful for half a season, but the support is still there. Yes I know the numbers are skewed by season ticket holders, but everyone's are. Tonight's support seemed relative to the importance of the game. There is a reason they sell the tickets as general admission for $10.

Agreed. Announcers said it was a rabid, hostile crowd. At one point in the second half after some calls went against us, Bob Valvano came really close to insulting the raucous behavior but somehow bit his tongue and slid his way around that one. I LIKE IT - the way it ought to be. The deeper they go, the more of an advantage it will be. On one hand, I wish all games were festival seating.

But surely our regular-season ticket holder attendance had an affect on our favorable seeding...I must say kudos to the season ticket holders for that.

Coach said it - ugly win & keep playing. What do they address? Hopefully Maymon will heal up - we really missed him, although Makanjuola played admirably - was he 6 of 6 from the stripe?

Is Golden hurt? He sure seemed confused, slowed or hesitant in the second half on both sides of the ball. Maybe I'm expecting too much from him? It looked like he (and much of the team) ate a big pancake breakfast after we got up 24-7 and then the struggle...until McBee bulldozed his way to that redneck East Tennessee jump ball - that was awesome determination. Yeah, Blackman/mon's hands were flailing but couldn't connect in all that hair, but I'll take a no-call (although the announcers reported a double-foul) because in looking back, that game was in effect over after that. And what a camera shot of confirmation in Martin as the team walked back to our bench while the refs conferred....

It is really puzzling how good we looked out of the shoot on offense but then we just went into a shell. At times we can look brilliant with our movement & passing, and then in an instant just go totally flat. I'm by no means an expert, but this is where I think the coaching can and hopefully will improve.

All in all, I'm proud of our Vols and looking forward to more progress. I wonder how we match up against MTSU.

alraguc#466367 writes:

in response to WetumpkaThumpa:

STOKES IS A BARELY 18 YR OLD TRUE FROSH! To make matters worse, he was all alone down low. The Vols had no other big men with significant experience. Maymon didn't play tonight and Kenny Hall has been suspended, if Maymon and Hall hadn't played all season this is how Stokes would have looked. He had no help! It's not he's Kevin Love down there yet, he's still learning and without Maymon and Hall out there he's going to learn a little faster. These NIT games are great for the VERY VERY YOUNG Vols.

Regardess of whether Maymon or Hall played, Stokes played poor defense against his man. This is not the first time he has had lapses on defense. I realize he is a freshman, but all of this hoopla about his arrival is overblown. He was a "big man on campus" in the high school setting. He has a long way to go to be a consistent performer at the collegiate level. He has raw offensive ability, size (which will only increase as he matures) and agility, but his game is far from polished. He shows great promise. I am sure he will continue to improve. Cuonzo Martin will see to that.

volfaninutah writes:

good game guys. Great to pull out a win. No matter who it is. Everyone playin this time of year is pretty good. It is exposure that the team and school need for recruiting. Go Vols!!!

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to born2ride:

I have seen larger crowds for roller derby.

I knew that another sport had to be your real passion. Do you have The Amazon Joannie Weston and Skinny Minnie's posters on your basement apartment wall? I know there is nothing of UT there. Go back to your VCR and enjoy the good old days. Sleazy and greasy, this guy.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to etu_vol_fan:

I've seen larger crowds for USA Championship Wrestling in the Civic Coliseum.

Go join born2ride at the roller derby. He seems to have season tickets. Maybe he'll let you ride on the back of his bike. I think he would like some company. Tee hee hee!

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It looked to me like he was part of a team effort for a win. Kinda like he was in Gainesville, remember? As for the first Fla game, they didn't need him in a double-digit win.

thevoice writes:

in response to alraguc#466367:

Regardess of whether Maymon or Hall played, Stokes played poor defense against his man. This is not the first time he has had lapses on defense. I realize he is a freshman, but all of this hoopla about his arrival is overblown. He was a "big man on campus" in the high school setting. He has a long way to go to be a consistent performer at the collegiate level. He has raw offensive ability, size (which will only increase as he matures) and agility, but his game is far from polished. He shows great promise. I am sure he will continue to improve. Cuonzo Martin will see to that.

I agree about Stokes. Thought he was going to be a savior, but he has a ways to go. A kid that size should be getting fouled a whole lot more. Problem is, he's not aggressive with his moves to the basket. Even while running down the court, he's very slow. Maybe that's his game, but he's primed to be a leader on this team and I wish he'd ramp up the hustle a good bit. He does have a knack for getting into rebound position. Has he had a dunk this season? I keep flashing back to the first UK game, hoping that was a sign of things to come. I'm sure it will, eventually.

volcam writes:

The attendance at the Vols-Savannah State first round NIT game is the highest of any of the first round games for which attendance figures were posted on ESPN. For a Tuesday night during late winter and for a game which was not arranged until barely 48 hours ahead, this attendance figure is quite good. With MTSU coming to Knoxville, expect a larger attendance. Fans will have time to plan to attend! Give Vol fans credit for showing up and for being loud at important times during the game. The crowd in Knoxville was far larger than crowds in Seattle; Eugene, OR; Palo Alto, CA; and Starkville, MS. GO VOLS!

Snapshot writes:

in response to tuvol4u:

Actually, the fan complaints are justified. I watched the game on esp3(live in another state) and actually heard the crowd. If its the "$10 crowd" of 6000 making that kind of noise then the normal wine and caviar crowd should be ashamed and needs to stay out of TBA, especially when they leave halfway through the second period. Worst fan support, im ashamed to say, is what we have

"worst fan support" ? What about the 2300 that showed up for Miss. St. tonight ?

tnbigg writes:

Good

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Someone define fan for me. I'm a little confused. Is a fan defined as someone who shows up at all the games? I've known people who did but didn't really care about the team and winning or losing but loved the atmosphere and being seen? But they buy tickets. I've known people who sit in front of their tv or radios and religiously keep up with their teqm or teams but never ever go out to a game.
They're just a coupla types of fans.
The theme seems to be ragging on people who don't go to the games...or maybe ones who CAN go but Don't?
Personally I can't judge the people there because well they're there! If they want to sit on their rumps the whole game it's their business. Golly you people sound like it's church or something?lol How many of you go to church and just sit there? Well if you do it's not my job to judge you.
Excitement and expressing excitement is different for different personalities.
I just hope none of you overly excited types don't sit in front of me at the movies.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to smokeyvol1:

And I thought Bob Kessling was bad!

As bad or worst than the CUSA announcers...I turned down the volume....just a pitiful experience all around for me....and I agree....NOW you see why Skylar is on the floor...he and Richardson seemed to be the only ones that really wanted to play...

SummittsCourt writes:

Really missed Maymon out there. The first 12 minutes and the last 8 minutes were pretty good. The in between - not so much.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BAsh Bash BAsh Bash bash Bash bash.

I bash you.

1. Personally I don't worship any human other than Jesus.
2. I bash you.
3. Most on here bash you.
4. Maybe we didn't play a good team. what does that have to do with any point you're not trying to make very well.
5. My dog bashes you.
6. It's fun to bash anything you say...nothing personal. A dose of your own medicine I guess bash you.
7. You're probably a decent guy when not posting on here? bashbashbash

klrigsby#1377153 writes:

in response to jamgod:

That's UT fans for ya'! Way to good for the NIT! Way to support your team fans! This is why our teams are not bringing home what we all want to see. Because all the Tenn fans really want to do is moan and grip and complain when we lose at something or whatever. The most fickle, usleless fanbase in America!! Why don't you start showin up and supporting the team for crying out loud or would you just rather complain about how things don't quite go your way sometimes????? SUPPORT THE TEAM AND CHEER AND CLAP OR WHATEVER.....It is time we started acting like real fans and show up at the games and rooting the guys on to winning more instead of complaining so much!!

Living in Lexington I have to say that the cat fan is by a LARGE margin the most fickle fan in the world.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tennrich1:

As bad or worst than the CUSA announcers...I turned down the volume....just a pitiful experience all around for me....and I agree....NOW you see why Skylar is on the floor...he and Richardson seemed to be the only ones that really wanted to play...

Golly! Sooooo negative!?? Actually I like Kessling and what's his name.
I disagree about the "want to" in our guys. We've been doing this same lapse all year long as far as energy throughout the game. We lose it on defense and get lazy on offense. or vise versa.lol this time it was a stretch in the middle of the second half. We energized when they got it close and won going away. Plus their team lost some energy at the end when they realized it was over.
I thought they had 2 or 3 really good players. there one big was very good...not a Stokes though. not yet.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I thought the article was about winning the first NIT game. We have the 5th most supporting fans in AMERICA! Depending on your definition of fan. I'm guessing that some of these complaints about the fans lead up to an article on the subject? maybe. I KNOW WHAT!! A POLL! DO A POLL about fan support etc. I have stated several times how much I think of polls. I've seen good response on the polls. Would you please do a poll on fan support?

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