Cuonzo Martin on loss against Wichita State
WICHITA, Kan. — Jordan McRae became the 45th Tennessee men’s basketball player to score 1,000 career points, but his 26-point performance wasn’t enough to notch the Vols’ first true road win of the season — one that would have looked impressive on an NCAA tournament resume come March.
UT lost to No. 12 Wichita State 70-61 at the Intrust Bank Arena on Saturday. Meanwhile the Shockers, ranked eighth in the USA Today Coaches Poll, claimed their first 10-0 start in school history after UT beat them when they were 9-0 last season.
McRae carried the Vols on an afternoon where Jarnell Stokes, as he did in UT’s season-opening loss at Xavier, got into early foul trouble. Stokes was scoreless in the first half. He finished with eight points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. No player other than McRae reached double-figure scoring for the Vols.
Despite trouble scoring, UT had its chances. The Vols led by as much as three in the first half and by one (26-25) at halftime. They claimed a 44-41 lead with 9:43 to play when Stokes made the free throw that followed a successful dunk.
But the Shockers’ Tekele Cotton, answered with a three-point play of his own. The junior guard scored a team-high 19 points. Cleanthony Early added 13 and Darius Carter scored 11. Ron Baker, WSU’s leading scorer, played on tweaked ankle and finished with eight.
Martin is now 7-10 against teams in the AP Top 25, 7-8 while at UT. The Vols’ record against current teams from the Missouri Valley Conference fell to 6-8. UT plays North Carolina State in Knoxville on Dec. 18