McRae's milestone bittersweet thanks to Vols' loss to Wichita State

Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle
Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton, right, goes up for a shot against Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes in the first half at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday.

Photo by Travis Heying

Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton, right, goes up for a shot against Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes in the first half at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday.

Cuonzo Martin on loss against Wichita State

WICHITA, Kan. — Jordan McRae didn’t stick around to celebrate.

He had scored five more than he needed to become the 45th Tennessee men’s basketball player to reach the milestone of 1,000 career points. But after a short radio interview, the senior guard was out of his jersey, out of Intrust Bank Arena and into his seat on a bus, ready for a flight out of Kansas that couldn’t come soon enough.

“Congratulations to Jordan on reaching 1,000,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I’m sure that will be the least of his concerns right now. But that is a tremendous honor.”

McRae scored a season-high 26 on Saturday, bumping his career total up to 1,005. The one-man effort wasn’t enough, though, and the Vols dropped a potential NCAA tournament resume builder to No. 12 Wichita State, 70-61.

Last season the Vols knocked off a 9-0 Wichita State team in Knoxville, back before the Shockers ran to the Final Four. WSU redeemed itself in the rematch with its first 10-0 start in school history coming at the expense of the Vols (6-3).

The Shockers’ record was celebrated. McRae’s was quickly acknowledged then pushed aside.

“It’s great for Jordan,” Martin said. “But he’s not a guy who is consumed with those type of honors. Maybe he will be years down the road. But he wants to win games.”

Chances to steal a good one slipped away. While McRae did his part, his teammates struggled. For the second time in a true road game this season, the Vols’ second-leading scorer, junior forward Jarnell Stokes, was a non-factor thanks to early foul trouble. No UT player other than McRae scored more than nine points.

“There were a lot of fouls,” Stokes said. “Every time we got some momentum, someone would get in foul trouble It’s kind of weird. I never got in foul trouble except on the road. Only two road games have I gotten in foul trouble. I just have to go back and watch film to see what I’m doing wrong.”

Said Martin after Stokes scored eight points and pulled down four rebounds in 21 minutes:

“Him being in foul trouble takes a key element away from what we do. He’s a guy that scores around the rim and makes plays. But we still gave ourselves opportunities.”

They sure did. At three different moments, the game was tied. The lead changed 14 times. UT led by as much as three in the first half and entered intermission up one. Then Wichita State guard Tekele Cotton caught fire in the second. He scored a team-high 19 points in the final 20 minutes.

“He was the key for those guys in the second half,” Martin said. “He did a tremendous job.”

Cotton took full advantage of the injury that slowed WSU’s usual leading scorer, Ron Baker, who tweaked an ankle during a practice this week. He poured ice water on any spark the Vols could muster. The best example came in a one-minute stretch midway through the second half.

It was Cotton who drew a foul on UT freshman Robert Hubbs and sank two free throws after Stokes had finally made a ripple in the game by throwing down back-to-back dunks. Cotton’s free throws cut UT’s lead to 44-43 with 9:32 to play.

And it was Cotton who seconds later ran the length of the court to block UT senior forward Jeronne Maymon’s layup from behind. Back on offense, he drew a foul on UT freshman Darius Thompson, made the shot and the free throw that followed. And just like that Wichita State was ahead, 46-44.

Maymon, who made three of eight shots for nine points, heaved a sigh when asked about the block.

“I’ve got to do a better job of that,” he said. “My team needs me to step up and make those type of layups, especially because they’re wide open He got a good block and it led to an and-one. That was kind of a momentum shift there, even though we were down only two. It got the crowd back into it.”

UT never cut WSU’s lead closer than two after that. The Vols were left cursing missed layups, bricked free throws (they missed nine), defensive breakdowns, and — although not publicly — the refs’ whistles that called 15 more fouls on them in the second half than the first.

“We are disappointed in how we played,” Stokes said. “They were a good team. We just know we were that close.”

For that reason, McRae securing his place in Vols history was bittersweet at best.

“Mac is a scorer,” Maymon said. “That’s what he does.”

It showed Saturday.

It just wasn’t enough.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 20

TNlogfire writes:

Well, it's called effort...we don't have it on the road when it get's down to it. And don't give us the "sledgehammer" ads anymore...we are NOT tough...but, we will improve..

ChesterDrawers writes:

Am I the only fan growing weary of such a slow pace on offense, seemingly relying on good defense as the primary game tactic. Is it an unreasonable to change to a faster pace of offense and maybe speeding up driving the ball to the basket? Frustrating to watch!

magicbyswh#221420 writes:

Martins offenses are PITIFUL, Where is Barton?
Stokes even thinking about going pro HA HA, I am sick of watching this team. They can beat the TN states and TN Techs but I will be surprised if they are 50/50 in the SEC. Another NIT year and Hart will have a decision to make at the end of the year. The only player that is producing is one Bruce recruited. The others are Martins and without McRae they may be only 50/50 right now. Another Hamilton hire that is backfiring. Get rid of the hammer it don't fit this team

UT4prez writes:

There is plenty of blame to go around and that includes McRae. He had several mental lapses in this game and very costly turnovers. Yes he is a scorer but we NEVER score when one person keeps the ball and jacks up a shot. Early in the game they moved their bodies and the ball well to get quality shots. Once they got to about 20 points that stopped. It isn't rocket science. When the other team is getting looks from inside 10 feet and we are shooting deep jumpers we lose. Period. Our defense is solid at times but it seems to always break down at the same time our offense gets going. Why is that? And the intensity we show when down 10. Where is that throughout the game? Finally, I find it interesting that another article stated this was the first game we were supposed to lose from an outsider perspective. Not according to Vegas. We were underdogs to UTEP, Wake Forest, and the first game against Xavier.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Jarnell does less with more than any player that I have seen at UT in many years...I first thought it was just him...but now I believe it is how he is coached. Just no fire ever burns in that kid...and I don't think the coach is capable of instilling it.

forkball writes:

in response to UT4prez:

There is plenty of blame to go around and that includes McRae. He had several mental lapses in this game and very costly turnovers. Yes he is a scorer but we NEVER score when one person keeps the ball and jacks up a shot. Early in the game they moved their bodies and the ball well to get quality shots. Once they got to about 20 points that stopped. It isn't rocket science. When the other team is getting looks from inside 10 feet and we are shooting deep jumpers we lose. Period. Our defense is solid at times but it seems to always break down at the same time our offense gets going. Why is that? And the intensity we show when down 10. Where is that throughout the game? Finally, I find it interesting that another article stated this was the first game we were supposed to lose from an outsider perspective. Not according to Vegas. We were underdogs to UTEP, Wake Forest, and the first game against Xavier.

Good observations. We don't get enough assists inside. Help defense needs to get better. Maymon hasn't regained his explosiveness but gives it all he has without complaining. I'm sure he's frustrated and hopefully can regain his form for the stretch run.

ralphiefor3 writes:

in response to UT4prez:

There is plenty of blame to go around and that includes McRae. He had several mental lapses in this game and very costly turnovers. Yes he is a scorer but we NEVER score when one person keeps the ball and jacks up a shot. Early in the game they moved their bodies and the ball well to get quality shots. Once they got to about 20 points that stopped. It isn't rocket science. When the other team is getting looks from inside 10 feet and we are shooting deep jumpers we lose. Period. Our defense is solid at times but it seems to always break down at the same time our offense gets going. Why is that? And the intensity we show when down 10. Where is that throughout the game? Finally, I find it interesting that another article stated this was the first game we were supposed to lose from an outsider perspective. Not according to Vegas. We were underdogs to UTEP, Wake Forest, and the first game against Xavier.

please get the facts straight. vols were 7 point favorites vs utep and 4 point favorites vs wake.

12/14/13 @WICH L 61-70 L 6.5 U 133.5
12/07/13 TNTC W 84-63 W -18 O 142.5
11/30/13 WAKE (N) W 82-63 W -4 U 146.5
11/29/13 XAV (N) W 64-49 W 2.5 U 137
11/28/13 UTEP (N) L 70-78 L -7 O 137.5
11/22/13 TNST W 88-67 W -20.5 O 138.5
11/18/13 CIT W 86-60 L -27 U 146.5
11/16/13 SCUS W 74-65 - - - -
11/12/13 @XAV L 63-67 L 2.5 U 141

GreerVol22 writes:

prima donnas all of them. Tremendous talent but they forget about playing team basketball. Each one of them is in their own little Globetrotter world.

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

McRae's technical was a momentum changing immature act. Awesome dunk but was the beginning of the end.

philcable#1432406 writes:

I miss Bruce!!!

rkarakis#235780 writes:

With all of that talent, am I the only one who thinks that this team would be near-perfect so far if Pearl was still coaching them? Martin is a nice enough guy to be sure, but the measure of a good coach is how much he can get from his players. Pearl's teams nearly always performed at or better than their capabilities; Martin's teams--especially in games like yesterday's or the first Xavier game--don't even come close.

vols1002 writes:

in response to rkarakis#235780:

With all of that talent, am I the only one who thinks that this team would be near-perfect so far if Pearl was still coaching them? Martin is a nice enough guy to be sure, but the measure of a good coach is how much he can get from his players. Pearl's teams nearly always performed at or better than their capabilities; Martin's teams--especially in games like yesterday's or the first Xavier game--don't even come close.

right on!! so much talent poor coaching

johnlg00 writes:

Guys, it is not so much the coaching as the players failing to make plays. You can't beat decent teams shooting 38% from the field and 50% from the line. Coaches don't shoot layups with their eyes closed or shoot bricks at the free-throw line. I can surely think of a few things I would try to tweak about the way the players work under the basket and taking it to the basket, but I can't give players the confidence to make wide-open shots. Neither can Martin and neither can Pearl. That is on them!

grumpyman writes:

Practice all shooting and on offense move around for a shot instead of standing.

bUTch__please writes:

Barton, Thompson, McRae, Davis and Maymon.

Leave 'em in.

murrayvol writes:

This team is hard to watch.....especially on offense.

ralphiefor3 writes:

how about creating offense with defense? the lack of pressing and trapping really hinders the players from using their natural length and athletic ability. on a side note the inbounding defense was reminiscent of pearls first year. it was outstanding.

Volborn writes:

in response to ChesterDrawers:

Am I the only fan growing weary of such a slow pace on offense, seemingly relying on good defense as the primary game tactic. Is it an unreasonable to change to a faster pace of offense and maybe speeding up driving the ball to the basket? Frustrating to watch!

It is unreasonable if you are Cuonzo and you believe in the Purdue model. How many National Championships did that system win at Purdue? (Crickets) Bruce Pearl would mop the floor with other teams if he had these players. That's what makes it so hard to watch.

UT4prez writes:

in response to ralphiefor3:

please get the facts straight. vols were 7 point favorites vs utep and 4 point favorites vs wake.

12/14/13 @WICH L 61-70 L 6.5 U 133.5
12/07/13 TNTC W 84-63 W -18 O 142.5
11/30/13 WAKE (N) W 82-63 W -4 U 146.5
11/29/13 XAV (N) W 64-49 W 2.5 U 137
11/28/13 UTEP (N) L 70-78 L -7 O 137.5
11/22/13 TNST W 88-67 W -20.5 O 138.5
11/18/13 CIT W 86-60 L -27 U 146.5
11/16/13 SCUS W 74-65 - - - -
11/12/13 @XAV L 63-67 L 2.5 U 141

Ralphie buddy, my info came from the Scorecenter app and I looked right before I posted. You must have nothing better to do than worry about whether or not everything someone posts is 100% in line with your world. Good for you. You still proved my point as Xavier was favored.

I actually agree with your second post about pressing.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ralphiefor3:

how about creating offense with defense? the lack of pressing and trapping really hinders the players from using their natural length and athletic ability. on a side note the inbounding defense was reminiscent of pearls first year. it was outstanding.

I thought the press was fairly effective for the relatively few minutes they used it. I thought they should have started it a few minutes earlier than they did. In fact, I suggested last week that they START in it to try to solve their problem with slow starts in games. Ironically, the first 10 minutes or so of that WSU game was one of their best stretches in the whole game, indeed, of the whole season. Since they have nearly always had a dry spell of five minutes or more at some point in a game, I would start using it any time they go, say, four possessions without a score or if the opponent scores three straight times. I generally favor any approach that gives more scope for this team's copious athleticism.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features