Vols can't overcome deficit against Memphis, 85-80

Tennessee's Jordan McRae chases a loose ball with Memphis' Adonis Thomas during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena, Friday, Jan. 4, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Jordan McRae chases a loose ball with Memphis' Adonis Thomas during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena, Friday, Jan. 4, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Thompson-Boling Arena was decked out in orange. The Tennessee players came complete with fancy, brand-spanking new orange-on-orange uniforms. There were orange shoes to match.

Then came the blues.

A “T-I-G-E-R-S TIGERS” filled an emptying Thompson-Boling as the clock dwindled down on an 85-80 Memphis victory on Friday night.

The 25th inception of the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry lived up to expectations with the down-but-never-out Vols cutting a 21-point, second-half deficit to as little as four, but the Tigers left with bragging rights.

Tears rolled down cheeks in the Vols’ locker room afterward.

“It was Memphis,” said Josh Richardson, who finished with a career-high 20 points, but will long remember the game for an entirely different reason. “They’re right down the street. We don’t like them. They don’t like us. We fought so hard to win that game that it hurts so bad to lose it.”

Entering Friday, no team had scored 70 or shot better than 50 percent against UT coach Cuonzo Martin’s vaunted defense this season. Memphis (10-3) poured in 85 on 31-for-56 shooting (56.4 percent).

Tennessee (8-4) saw its four-game winning streak come to a close, and its all-time series advantage over Memphis slip to 14-11.

“It was a tough game,” Martin said. “My biggest concern is that there are a couple of guys, I thought they needed to play better. Not necessarily their production offensively, but playing hard and competing.”

After building a 14-point halftime lead, the Tigers stretched their lead to 21 with 14 minutes, 4 seconds remaining.

Struggling mightily to score, UT searched for the offense to mount a comeback.

Jordan McRae, who finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting, raised his hand. The junior guard nailed back-to-back 3-pointers cutting the margin to 15 with 11:20 left and shot life back into a slumbering Thompson-Boling packed with 19,535 fans, including new football coach Butch Jones. Standing ovations urged buckets on one side of the floor and stops on the other.

Both started to pile up.

Then McRae hit his fifth 3 of the night. The Memphis advantage was down 10 with under 10 to go.

The Tigers responded thanks to two 3-point daggers by junior guard Geron Johnson, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.

“If I didn’t let (Johnson) hit those two 3s, it’s a whole different ballgame,” said McRae, the defender on both plays.

Two straight Memphis goaltending violations on layups by Jarnell Stokes (11 points, nine rebounds) cut the Tigers’ lead to 69-64 with 5:03 left.

It could have gotten even lower than that. Streaking down the floor with just over three minutes remaining, Richardson rose for an uncontested dunk. Memphis led 72-66.

“I missed the dunk,” Richardson said. “It was a big play — a big momentum shift.”

Richardson responded with a 3-pointer on the next trip following a three-point play by Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin, but the damage was done.

Joe Jackson led the Tigers with 20 points and seven assists, while Adonis Thomas finished with 18.

Stokes, the lone Memphis native on the UT roster, was whistled for two early fouls and sat for the final 9:52 of the first half. The Vols only trailed 18-13 when he exited.

Ten minutes later, the Tigers strolled into the halftime locker room with a 42-28 lead on 16-of-25 shooting.

“It was hard to watch,” Stokes said. “We weren’t getting in them like we normally do,” Richardson said. “I don’t really know what happened, but we can’t come out like that. That’s upsetting. Film on that ain’t going to look to pretty.”

Derek Reese (ankle sprain) and D’Montre Edwards (knee sprain) were both inactive for Tennessee. Martin said both injuries occurred during a Thursday practice.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 121

justafan4ut writes:

I'm first tonight. At least we did score some points, but we have no one that is quick enough to stay with UM's point guard. They showed some heart when down by 20+ points at one point. Didn't watch the whole time was watching some of the Cotton Bowl at the same time. We win 15-18 games this year, let maymon redshirt and get ready for next year, Hope HCM recruits a quick guy.

redskinvol1 writes:

Bubble popped!!Would need 12 or 13 sec wins now.Just one more year of close loses and not making the tourney and the best coach to ever walk into TBA can come back.Bring back Bruce!!

justafan4ut writes:

Please try not to be so negative all the time people, if you want to critcal that is fine, but then at least point out the good things that happen. I liked Bruce as much as anybody, but he ain't coming back, Sorry.

born2ride writes:

Good grief! Conzo Martin lost 3 times to Tiger High. Bruce Pearl owned Memphis and would have never lost 3 games in a row to them.

Great effort by McRae and good comeback by the Vols to keep the game from being embarrassing.

We lost it when Richardson missed the dunk.

VOLSnTITANS writes:

I like the fight the VOLS showed 2nd half. Lots of potential for this team if Richardson, McRae, and Yemi keep improving. Their play was outstanding for the most part during the 2nd half. I was disappointed in the play of the freshmen tonight, they seemed in over their head. I'm starting to wonder if Golden will ever come out of his slump and I've always wondered why Mcbee gets so much playing time. I expect Martin to make lineup and playing time adjustments. Hopefully, he can lock in a solid rotation before SEC play so we can make a run.

jt45 writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

Bubble popped!!Would need 12 or 13 sec wins now.Just one more year of close loses and not making the tourney and the best coach to ever walk into TBA can come back.Bring back Bruce!!

I have to admit Im starting to really miss BPs coaching style. We just dont have the talent this year to compete against good shooting teams. Memphis was hitting everything it seemed.

Ironcity writes:

This is an NIT team. Maybe its the injuries, maybe its the players or it could be the coaching. I guess we will find out as the season progresses. NO excuse to not have a capable back up PG. Martin had plenty of time to recruit one. I think Martin let his ego get in the way of recruiting a player to fill the one position of need. Foolish to expect Moore to back up the PG when the guy played power forward in HS.

lomas98 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good grief! Conzo Martin lost 3 times to Tiger High. Bruce Pearl owned Memphis and would have never lost 3 games in a row to them.

Great effort by McRae and good comeback by the Vols to keep the game from being embarrassing.

We lost it when Richardson missed the dunk.

Would have still been down 6 if he made te dunk. While momentum would have been our side, that one play didn't lose the game. Getting down by 20 points at home mid way through second half was what lost the game.

wigmeister writes:

YECH!

TopTenn writes:

Good fight Vols. Team could have gave up.

redskinvol1 writes:

in response to jt45:

I have to admit Im starting to really miss BPs coaching style. We just dont have the talent this year to compete against good shooting teams. Memphis was hitting everything it seemed.

I agree.If defense is your bread and butter,then why did you give up 85?Bruce would have given up 92 but would have scored 110.Bring back Bruce!!

underthehill writes:

I think the team on the floor during the comeback was Lopez..McRae..Richardson..Hall..Stokes Hope to see them on the floor together sometime before we get down by 21..

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Would have won had we shot better in the first half..Starting games shooting bricks on your home court has got to STOP..Nice to see Hall step up and another good game by Josh..Whole time Ian watching the game and wondering why every year the top players in Tennessee end up wearing blue..Makes me sick

eduardo writes:

I am officially done with the Cuonzo Experiment. This type of bball is just not watchable. We have been spoiled by BP and after his showcause is finished UT should bring him back. Man it just a shame what happened here. I mean we were there...the TOP and have now regressed to this! The smart and I do mean smart move would have been to go after Shaka Smart at VCU when they were looking for a coach. Just not this garbage!

lomas98 writes:

Obviously Maymon is a big loss withi this team, but no one has stepped up their role or play with him out. Stokes has gotten worse with him gone. Golden is lost. Mcbee can't hit anything. Hall is average. McRae had a good game tonight, but is just too inconsistent. Richardson is the only player who seems like he is improving. The newcomers in Edwards and Moore are irrelevant. Chievous is awful. The team overall gives good effort, but is simply not talented enough to win consistently. Can at least get off to a good conference start with victory over ole miss Wednesday. Will not be easy to beat them.

naplesvol writes:

Team did not start playing with any heart until final 10 minutes
Pearl's teams were relentless from tip and played better defense
Also on tv it was not a very impressive "Orange Out" in the stands

tedsclark#217468 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good grief! Conzo Martin lost 3 times to Tiger High. Bruce Pearl owned Memphis and would have never lost 3 games in a row to them.

Great effort by McRae and good comeback by the Vols to keep the game from being embarrassing.

We lost it when Richardson missed the dunk.

"Tiger High" Just kick your Butts Boy:)

redskinvol1 writes:

in response to lomas98:

Obviously Maymon is a big loss withi this team, but no one has stepped up their role or play with him out. Stokes has gotten worse with him gone. Golden is lost. Mcbee can't hit anything. Hall is average. McRae had a good game tonight, but is just too inconsistent. Richardson is the only player who seems like he is improving. The newcomers in Edwards and Moore are irrelevant. Chievous is awful. The team overall gives good effort, but is simply not talented enough to win consistently. Can at least get off to a good conference start with victory over ole miss Wednesday. Will not be easy to beat them.

Is it just me or does Golden get stuffed every time he goes to the rim.I would rather see the local kid Lopez finish the season as the starter.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor dont think Martin is the answer long term but Bruce wont ever be back in the SEC/Tenn. Too bad HE ruined his coaching career . Witch Doctor say fairy dust and clicking your heels together aint gonna work either. lol
Bones never lie.

TheEffect writes:

in response to TopTenn:

Good fight Vols. Team could have gave up.

Too bad moral victories don't count.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

sugar bowl beat down still stings ha ha

budd#207344 writes:

in response to jt45:

I have to admit Im starting to really miss BPs coaching style. We just dont have the talent this year to compete against good shooting teams. Memphis was hitting everything it seemed.

This doesn't have to do with coaching style. Maymon is out for the year and both Skylar and Trae are injured far worse than we have been told about. You are having to depend on young guys and role players. Josh and McCrae grew up tonite. The fight is there now we just have to let them grow and learn.

jt45 writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bet thats how you felt after the sugar bowl woodshed beating your gata boys got.

mike#208050 writes:

Tennessee played a very good game tonight. Cuonzo Martin is a very good coach. He was just out gunned tonight. Big difference in talent level in the two programs as this point in time. Man up Vol fans and support your program. Your team gave their all tonight.

Memphis finally put together a few minutes of the style of basketball they are capable of playing. Great game plan Josh!

bookman58 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good grief! Conzo Martin lost 3 times to Tiger High. Bruce Pearl owned Memphis and would have never lost 3 games in a row to them.

Great effort by McRae and good comeback by the Vols to keep the game from being embarrassing.

We lost it when Richardson missed the dunk.

If it is Tiger High doesn't that say something about UT? You couldn't beat a high school team tonight. By the way, Bruce Pearl did not own the Tigers, but he was the best coach UT has had in a long, long time. I just don't understand the disrespect, but if it makes you feel better then by all means.

VinylVols writes:

Not sure what you guys are talking about.
Besides the 21 point deficit, this team looks good.
If McCrae and Richardson can become playmakers like that every night, they'll get in a rhythm.
I've said it from the first game, get McBee off the starting lineup, he's not that good of a defender that it makes up for his lack of shooting at all.
McCrae, Lopez, Stokes, Hall and Richardson should be the starting lineup and golden and reese should be coming off the bench for the most part.
Go Vols. Should do pretty well during SEC competition.

jt45 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

This doesn't have to do with coaching style. Maymon is out for the year and both Skylar and Trae are injured far worse than we have been told about. You are having to depend on young guys and role players. Josh and McCrae grew up tonite. The fight is there now we just have to let them grow and learn.

Where in my post do see me blaming CM. I like coach Martin but I miss CBPs style of offense as do alot of others. Im aware of the many reasons why we are not there yet, but IMO to compete against Top tier teams you need an effective offense that can shoot the ball well and not always rely on post players.We dont have that shooter, Skyler hasent been very effective for a couple of years. I see very little movement at times on offense. The first half of this game was hard to watch on both ends of the floor.But the season is young yet and they could still get there, but without Maymon Im not very optimistic about their chances against the better SEC teams. Time will tell.

TheEffect writes:

Those all orange uniforms were atrocious. Looked like they were soaked in pumpkin vomit.

bookman58 writes:

in response to TopTenn:

Good fight Vols. Team could have gave up.

I believe the proper grammar would be "Team could have given up."

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to TheEffect:

Those all orange uniforms were atrocious. Looked like they were soaked in pumpkin vomit.

Witch Doctor say the letters and numbers looked pink? Witch Doctor say what the hell Martin? Witch Doctor say GONNA HAVE TO LEARN TO PLAY ZONE...Really its a pride thing it seems(?) WOW I have never understood a coach that wont play or change a D to match the Opponent..THIS WILL BE his undoing unless he gives up the "pride" thing
Bones never lie.

wazzya69vol writes:

Good news: they never gave up. Bad news: they were never in it.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say the letters and numbers looked pink? Witch Doctor say what the hell Martin? Witch Doctor say GONNA HAVE TO LEARN TO PLAY ZONE...Really its a pride thing it seems(?) WOW I have never understood a coach that wont play or change a D to match the Opponent..THIS WILL BE his undoing unless he gives up the "pride" thing
Bones never lie.

Don't really understand your diatribe against Coach as I think he can be the answer and have seen him coach up teams that lack the talent. 2nd in the SEC last year wasn't by luck. Maymon out this year might be too big a loss to overcome.

Just beat Vandy twice,'Cheating Cats at least once and all home games will be large steps toward a successful season.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor just tired of a coach that WONT adjust or play zone ....ever. Witch Doctor not doubt he is a good coach but this is something he needs to change. Witch Doctor say IF we play a mediocre zone tonite and we shave a few points off Memphis. Witch Doctor say we aint fast enough to keep up with the back doors and off ball screens as proof tonight. look at the uncontested drives one after another. why no zone? why? ever successful NCAA coach does/has.
Bones never lie.
*not fussing at you lol. just being "Witch Doctor" rhetorical.

NomDePlume (Inactive) writes:

This was a hard won game. We had momentum, but lost it. Dang, we were gonna hit 'em, but missed our spreckle on the lost slam. Rejected on the rim f--d us.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

Don't really understand your diatribe against Coach as I think he can be the answer and have seen him coach up teams that lack the talent. 2nd in the SEC last year wasn't by luck. Maymon out this year might be too big a loss to overcome.

Just beat Vandy twice,'Cheating Cats at least once and all home games will be large steps toward a successful season.

*oops I thought I was replying to you above. lol
BNL

1vavolfan writes:

Went to the game and am totally disgusted. Some things I took away:

*We are in big trouble at the PG position. Our starter/leading scorer hasn't made a FG or barely tried one in the last 2 games. Golden can't stay on the court because he can't guard anyone and looks like he is uninterested and unmotivated.

*We should not be even recruiting players like Moore, Edwards, and Chievous. Memphis has a top 3 class full of 5 star players. Chievous was rated 2 stars!

*McBee should play sparingly. He is a joke with his goofy looking beard and his spastic behavior in the player introductions. Moore and Chievous should never play period, if those 2 don't play tonight the game is closer.

*Martin is clueless on coaching offense. We score when we drive to the basket and feed our post players the ball. We have players who can actually score when some form of offense is ran. Turn Jordan and J-Rich loose and let them play.

UTMaster04 writes:

Get over it: BP is not coming back to UT and should not. Move on. Give Martin a chance to build his program. Although the Vols did not play good defense tonight, normally they do and that's a great step. Memphis is one of the most talented teams in the country and we just did not have the horses to keep up with them. Perhaps we will soon.

Pining away for a liar and a cheat simply to win a b-ball game shows that you do not support the University as a whole and indicates that you did not attend UT, graduate from UT, or are involved with UT other than watching games. Alums like myself care about the entire University.

TK writes:

"Fancy uniforms"??? Those were UGLY!! As UGLY as UT's play most of the game. I will give UT credit on a nice comeback. Even if it fell short. Give those uniforms away (if you can find someone to take them). FIRE whoever gave the ok to order them. Coach Martin you should have just said "NO!"

willphill#241787 writes:

in response to UTMaster04:

Get over it: BP is not coming back to UT and should not. Move on. Give Martin a chance to build his program. Although the Vols did not play good defense tonight, normally they do and that's a great step. Memphis is one of the most talented teams in the country and we just did not have the horses to keep up with them. Perhaps we will soon.

Pining away for a liar and a cheat simply to win a b-ball game shows that you do not support the University as a whole and indicates that you did not attend UT, graduate from UT, or are involved with UT other than watching games. Alums like myself care about the entire University.

I attended and graduated from UT. Bring back Bruce!

Katphan29 writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

Don't really understand your diatribe against Coach as I think he can be the answer and have seen him coach up teams that lack the talent. 2nd in the SEC last year wasn't by luck. Maymon out this year might be too big a loss to overcome.

Just beat Vandy twice,'Cheating Cats at least once and all home games will be large steps toward a successful season.

Cheating Cats? We don't have to cheat to be good. That would have beeen a team to our south......wait, you know already, LOL

AlpharettaVol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say the letters and numbers looked pink? Witch Doctor say what the hell Martin? Witch Doctor say GONNA HAVE TO LEARN TO PLAY ZONE...Really its a pride thing it seems(?) WOW I have never understood a coach that wont play or change a D to match the Opponent..THIS WILL BE his undoing unless he gives up the "pride" thing
Bones never lie.

Witchy,
Maybe you should check out the color button on the TV in your voodoo hut. They were Vol Orange on my screen. The problem with the uniforms were the guys who were wearing them. Somebody has got to convince them to drive to the basket in the first half. Right now it's just too little too late.

SevenT writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

Don't really understand your diatribe against Coach as I think he can be the answer and have seen him coach up teams that lack the talent. 2nd in the SEC last year wasn't by luck. Maymon out this year might be too big a loss to overcome.

Just beat Vandy twice,'Cheating Cats at least once and all home games will be large steps toward a successful season.

"cheating Cats"? Tennessee is the team on NCAA probation for cheating and lying to the NCAA.

8ball writes:

in response to SevenT:

"cheating Cats"? Tennessee is the team on NCAA probation for cheating and lying to the NCAA.

Hey dummy, ky has been on probation for 75 out of 95 years of playing. Every coach you have had cheated..

TheFuj writes:

Hard to watch. We use to always take it to Memphis, now we have lost what 3 in a row. Thank goodness Mcrae hit a streak or we would have lost by 30 at home.
Team just seems worse this year. Kind of like Dooley's tenure. Little fight 1st year but with some close losses, then got worse with each year.
We are only missing Tatum from last year. Granted Maymon has not played and something surely does not seem right there. He jumps up and down on the bench. Could he not do that on the floor?
Mcbrick just cannot hit consistently. He is a 4 year player.
Golden looks worse.
Mcrae is so streaky. Who knows when he will hit another outside shot.
Stokes is not that good. Also, a liability at the line.
This team needs to step up in a weak SEC this year. Right now, almost every player looks no better, or worse from last year (except Richardson). Although Richardson's miss dunk was inexcusable. New players to team cannot score in a empty gym.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to SevenT:

"cheating Cats"? Tennessee is the team on NCAA probation for cheating and lying to the NCAA.

Thing is, your cheatin' cats aren't doing so hot this year. so what's your excuse now??

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

I didn't get a chance to watch the game last night, but I saw the box score from the first half. 29%. TWENTY-NINE FREAKING PERCENT! Who are you going to beat with those kinds of numbers?

Can anyone on this team shoot? Anyone? Obviously, they had a valiant comeback, and that's great. I think they still have a chance to right the boat and win a lot of SEC games, but this s**t has to stop. CCM, whip these guys into shape!! They're a better team than they showed last night! Time to prove it!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

This doesn't have to do with coaching style. Maymon is out for the year and both Skylar and Trae are injured far worse than we have been told about. You are having to depend on young guys and role players. Josh and McCrae grew up tonite. The fight is there now we just have to let them grow and learn.

Thanks Bud you are one of a few that has a good perspective..Hate to do it but Maymon should RS..Don't know what injury Trae has but he is clearly not 100%..Trae went from leading the team in scoring and shooting 43% to shooting 11%!! If Trae was healthy we win that game.Period! Feel bad for McBee..Word was he busted his hump in the off season perfecting his shooting and it went so well expectations were very high...Now he goes out and plays hurt and fans return his loyalty by bashing him..Then there is D. Miller who had surgery ages ago and has yet to even practice..Had Miller played in the summer Iam sure with his size and physical style he would be in the rotation..

tennisvol writes:

What is wrong with McBee? For a player with a 3pt speciality, he must make all of them in the warm up before the game. Then, he gets an open shot and passes the ball. Go figure!

ARANGEVOL writes:

its hard to beat anyone without a Point Guard.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

Is it just me or does Golden get stuffed every time he goes to the rim.I would rather see the local kid Lopez finish the season as the starter.

I think your at little confused..Lopez had a clear shot for a lay up on a break away but the defense caught up to him and blocked an easy shot..Not the first time that's happened..Anytime he takes the ball past the foul line Lopez gets hammered!! Golden has more than proven he can go to the hoop and get points or a foul but he is playing hurt and everything about his game is now off..I give Trae credit for knowing he is limited and isn't shooting the ball very much...Starting Lopez??? Are you on drugs?? Lopez has decent ball handling skills but he is a ZERO threat to score..An injured Golden playing at 30% remains a better option and Martin knows it

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