As Tennessee's men turn to the SEC basketball season this week, they can ponder both the bad and the good from their last outing.
A poor first half at both ends of the court proved critical in an 85-80 loss to Memphis on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Still, the explosive second half raises possibilities for the coming 18-game conference slate that begins with a visit from Ole Miss (11-2) on Wednesday (TV: WVLT, 8 p.m.).
After trailing 42-28 at halftime and eventually seeing Memphis' margin grow to 21 points, the Vols rallied with a 52-point second half.
UT (8-4) was a missed breakaway dunk by Josh Richardson from bettering the best scoring half in the Cuonzo Martin era. The Vols also scored 52 points in the second half of an 85-62 win over Louisiana Monroe in 2011, Martin's second game as head coach.
"I'm fine with it,'' Martin said Friday night. "We can play this style. If you want to go up and down with it, that's fine.''
It's a style rarely seen from the Vols this season. There have been halves and even whole games in which scoring was like pulling teeth.
In most cases, UT's defense has been strong enough to carry the day but that wasn't the case against hot-shooting Memphis.
Leading the second-half outburst were Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson with 26 and 20 points, respectively, both career highs.
Richardson has scored at a 14.6 clip over the past three games, virtually double his average.
His uptick comes just as leading scorer Trae Golden has faded. Golden is 1-of-16 shooting in the past three games.
"We just needed some scoring,'' Richardson said. "Since buckets were coming so tough, I figured I might as well be the person to shoot it.''
McRae, who was 5-of-12 beyond the 3-point arc, liked the faster pace.
"This,'' said Martin, "has to become who we are on a daily basis — being aggressive, scoring the basketball, attacking the rim.''
Notebook: Memphis' 11 blocked shots were an arena record for an opponent. The previous high was nine by several teams. ... The 80 points was UT's highest output since 86 against The Citadel on Dec. 29, 2011. The 85 allowed were the most since 89 by Oakland on Nov. 28, 2011. ... Martin doesn't rule out freshman Derek Reese (ankle sprain) playing against Ole Miss. ... Martin said a decision will be announced Monday on whether Jeronne Maymon (knee), who has yet to play a game this season, will try to return this year or not.