Trae Golden slumping as Vols enter SEC competition

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) shoots the ball as Presbyterian shooting guard Jordan Downing (21) defends in the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) shoots the ball as Presbyterian shooting guard Jordan Downing (21) defends in the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Western Carolina guard Trey Sumler (5) drives the ball as Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Western Carolina guard Trey Sumler (5) drives the ball as Tennessee guard Trae Golden (11) defends during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee heads into Southeastern Conference competition with its leading scorer in a major shooting slump.

Although junior guard Trae Golden averages a team-high 11.8 points per game, he has shot 1 of 16 over his last three games while dealing with a bruised left shoulder. He didn't make a basket in either of Tennessee's last two games.

Golden isn't sure how much the shoulder is affecting his shot. He's hoping to end the slump Wednesday as the Volunteers (8-4) host Mississippi (11-2) in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

"I really wasn't shooting the ball that well before it happened," Golden said. "And then it happened. It just adds to it. It's something I've got to continue to get better at. I have to get used to it now and have to deal with it."

Golden was playing his best basketball of the season before the slump.

He was named the SEC player of the week after scoring 25 points Dec. 13 in a 69-60 victory over Wichita State, which was ranked 23rd at the time. Five days after the Wichita State game, Golden had 16 points, eight assists and no turnovers in a 78-62 triumph over Presbyterian.

The slump started Dec. 21 when he shot 1 of 9 in a 66-52 victory over Western Carolina, though Golden still scored 10 points because he drove to the basket enough to go 8 of 10 on free throws.

Golden went 0 of 5 and scored five points Dec. 29 in a 51-47 win over Xavier and was 0 of 2 with four points Friday in an 85-80 loss to Memphis.

"I don't think it's a lack of confidence," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He has the green light and shoots the most balls on the team. We need him to score the ball."

Golden's assist-turnover ratio also has taken a hit lately. In Tennessee's first 10 games, Golden had 49 assists and only 17 turnovers. In his last two games, he has two assists and six turnovers.

His struggles began around the same time he hurt his shoulder while fighting through a screen in practice.

"It's one of those injuries that's progressively going to have to take care of itself," Golden said. "It was really tender in the Xavier game, but other than that, it's getting better. It's just hard to lift my arm up in that area, but injuries are part of the game. It's just something you've got to fight through."

Golden understands that it might be something he has to work through all year.

"It's not like an ankle sprain," Golden said. "With an ankle sprain, it's either sprained or it's not. This is just more aggravating, and it's going to be aggravating. It's something I have to deal with."

Tennessee beat Xavier and nearly erased a 21-point, second-half deficit against Memphis without getting much of a contribution from its leading scorer because other players stepped up.

Junior guard Jordan McRae has averaged 15.4 points over his last five games and scored a career-high 26 points against Memphis. Although he doesn't start, McRae is now the Vols' second-leading scorer with 11.6 points per game.

Sophomore walk-on guard Brandon Lopez played 13 minutes against Xavier and 14 minutes against Memphis. Lopez hadn't been on the floor more than seven minutes in any of Tennessee's first 10 games.

But the Vols need Golden to break out of his slump soon as they attempt to match their SEC success of last season, when they tied for second in the league with a 10-6 conference record. The Vols could use Golden's scoring ability now that they know injured Jeronne Maymon isn't returning from a knee injury that has kept him from playing all season.

The Vols announced Sunday they were redshirting Maymon, a second-team all-SEC selection last season.

"I think the conference season is a whole other year, a whole other season," Golden said. "You've just got to go into it with an open mindset. Every team, every night is going to be a battle. You just have to make sure you're ready to go."

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Comments » 23

BrassMonkey writes:

First. Leave it to Coach Martin to coach them down. Stokes has gotten worse the more time he spends with him too. Way to take natural players, strap weighted vests on them, and ruin their shot.

brod writes:

need golden to come out of this slump. mcrae and richardson need to continue their hot shooting. if that happens tennessee will win some games in the sec.

mloaks#222092 writes:

stokes lost maymon in paint and gets 2-teamed; aint no vest

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

The issue here is that Armani Moore was expected to be that back up point going in. He has yet to produce. Lopez is ok, but offers nothing offensively. This leaves this team once again questioning the need for point guard play. Trae would probably be more effective at off guard, but his floor speed along with when McBee is on the floor makes them a liability. Right now the best offensive players on this team are McCrae & Richardson.

Ironcity writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

The issue here is that Armani Moore was expected to be that back up point going in. He has yet to produce. Lopez is ok, but offers nothing offensively. This leaves this team once again questioning the need for point guard play. Trae would probably be more effective at off guard, but his floor speed along with when McBee is on the floor makes them a liability. Right now the best offensive players on this team are McCrae & Richardson.

Really it was foolish to expect Moore to compete at PG when he has never played it. Martin has done a poor job of bring a viable PG on campus. The first year was understandable the second year is inexcusable. With Golden injured its obvious we have a need for someone that can at least be viable at the PG position. I like Lopez as a back up and I question why he hasn't played more up to this point. This team also needs to get Stoke better opportunities to score. He is playing to much with his back to the basket and clearly that is not his strength. I would like to see him face the basket more and also get the ball in different spots on the court. It did seem that was happening against Memphis but it was hard to tell when no one could throw the ball in the ocean in the first half.

Basketvol writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

First. Leave it to Coach Martin to coach them down. Stokes has gotten worse the more time he spends with him too. Way to take natural players, strap weighted vests on them, and ruin their shot.

Congratulations on being first, really. This is a tremendous accomplishment and you should be proud of all the hard work that brought you to this pinnacle of achievement. Coach Martin, on the other hand, what a loser. You're so right. I'm pretty sure he has a sign over his office door that reads, "I will give my all to coach them down today." He taps it on the way out as a reminder of his commitment to failure. He needs to try a little harder though, since his team is 8-4 headed into SEC play. This is an improvement over last year, and in my mind, this is completely unacceptable. I expect the team to get worse, not better. If they keep improving, we might need to fire this guy.

underthehill writes:

I like a lot of things I see in Coach Martin..but I don't see how he can put McBee and Golden on the floor at the same time..he must think it gives the team the best chance to win..I don't..and I think it would have been wise to have gone after a Jr College point guard for this year...MTSU had one last year that came from a JC in the NIT game we played them..he took over the game late and won it for MTSU..

wigmeister writes:

I am not a coach, but whatever we are supposed to be doing, it isn't working as it should. It's like a football game. The first half is over, and now we need the second half adjustments to make our run and win. Oh, we couldn't make those second half adjustments on the football team. Hope we can make them here. Otherwise, it will be "wait till next year" again!

CoverOrange writes:

I'm not as interested in Trae's scoring as his assists. If he is dishing the team is working.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I'm not as interested in Trae's scoring as his assists. If he is dishing the team is working.

Trae needs the threat of his offense to draw the defense so he has open guys to pass to. We can't know how sore his shoulder is, but if it is sore enough, he might be afraid to risk the contact, even if only subconsciously. It might also affect the angles he feels comfortable using to deliver the ball. We all know he is not a natural PG, but he is pretty darned good when he is at his best. We just have to hope that he can find a way to tough it out and that the other guys step it up to get them through the rest of the season.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Dang! What was he thinking trying to run over Stokes.

born2ride writes:

Joe Jackson was too quick for Golden. Luckily we won't face anybody quicker in SEC play. But Golden will struggle because of his lack of quickness.

Go Big Orange!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Trae needs the threat of his offense to draw the defense so he has open guys to pass to. We can't know how sore his shoulder is, but if it is sore enough, he might be afraid to risk the contact, even if only subconsciously. It might also affect the angles he feels comfortable using to deliver the ball. We all know he is not a natural PG, but he is pretty darned good when he is at his best. We just have to hope that he can find a way to tough it out and that the other guys step it up to get them through the rest of the season.

You don't get a lot of assists passing around the perimeter. Most come from going to the basket and passing off, that's what I was thinking. But you have a point that if TG can't get his arms up enough for the threat of a layup he won't be guarded at all to draw the defense to him to make the pass.

rockypop writes:

Offensively, Tennessee is a train wreck. Can't shoot for s***, can't hit layups, shoot free throws, or hit put-backs. As for Golden, he seems to have really benefited from his Rocky Top League play where he averaged something like 50 points a game. Maybe playing in that league will keep you in shape, but when you're in a game where no one plays defense, it sure will give you a false sense of confidence, not to mention leading to a bunch of bad habits.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

wow are we really losing to Ole Miss by 10 points? this squad looks like the teams of the O'Neil/Peterson days.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

Wow...these guys are really playing like s**t tonight. This is why I don't make predictions. 20 wins seemed easy enough, now I'm not so sure.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

My god is every men's sport's team at UT going to suck forever??

Can we get Bruce back??

This is just incredibly poor shooting by college level players.

Not having Maymon has destroyed this bunch.

VolGrad writes:

This team has de-evolved since November. Not sure why they can't hit the broad side of a barn right now. This is really pitiful.

McRae has surprised me in his development, Richardson and Makanjuola are fairly consistent in their performances, and Stokes put up 15-- but the other "leaders" like Golden and McBee have just totally disappeared. What the heck is going on?

BrassMonkey writes:

in response to Basketvol:

Congratulations on being first, really. This is a tremendous accomplishment and you should be proud of all the hard work that brought you to this pinnacle of achievement. Coach Martin, on the other hand, what a loser. You're so right. I'm pretty sure he has a sign over his office door that reads, "I will give my all to coach them down today." He taps it on the way out as a reminder of his commitment to failure. He needs to try a little harder though, since his team is 8-4 headed into SEC play. This is an improvement over last year, and in my mind, this is completely unacceptable. I expect the team to get worse, not better. If they keep improving, we might need to fire this guy.

I didn't happen to catch the score of last nights game, did you?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

You don't get a lot of assists passing around the perimeter. Most come from going to the basket and passing off, that's what I was thinking. But you have a point that if TG can't get his arms up enough for the threat of a layup he won't be guarded at all to draw the defense to him to make the pass.

You're right that assists usually come from penetration rather than trying to make long passes from out on the wing. When Trey is at his best, he pentrates fairly well, though he sometimes leaves his feet too soon. Right now, he is clearly not at his best, which is even more of a factor in how poorly the Vols have played lately than Maymon's absence is.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to rockypop:

Offensively, Tennessee is a train wreck. Can't shoot for s***, can't hit layups, shoot free throws, or hit put-backs. As for Golden, he seems to have really benefited from his Rocky Top League play where he averaged something like 50 points a game. Maybe playing in that league will keep you in shape, but when you're in a game where no one plays defense, it sure will give you a false sense of confidence, not to mention leading to a bunch of bad habits.

Golden's recent play has far less to do with playing in the Rocky Top League than it does with a surgically-repaired knee that clearly isn't 100% yet and a recent severe bruise on his left shoulder. I have always believed that the RTL is "strictly for amusement purposes only", but there are such leagues in virtually every fair-sized college town. You can't stop players from playing ball in the off-season; it's just what they do. At least the RTL is played in a gym with a wooden floor instead of asphalt and has refs and clocks and such, unlike completely unregulated playground ball, where there are always guys looking to make a rep by clocking some college star. All you can hope is that they use it to work on the things they need to improve and don't get seriously hurt.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

You're right that assists usually come from penetration rather than trying to make long passes from out on the wing. When Trey is at his best, he pentrates fairly well, though he sometimes leaves his feet too soon. Right now, he is clearly not at his best, which is even more of a factor in how poorly the Vols have played lately than Maymon's absence is.

PS: Should have been "Trae" rather than "Trey"; he as only been at UT for three years, during which time I have read and seen much about him. Guess "old-timer's disease" is catching up with me!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolGrad:

This team has de-evolved since November. Not sure why they can't hit the broad side of a barn right now. This is really pitiful.

McRae has surprised me in his development, Richardson and Makanjuola are fairly consistent in their performances, and Stokes put up 15-- but the other "leaders" like Golden and McBee have just totally disappeared. What the heck is going on?

Golden and McBee are both clearly more hampered by their injuries than most of us would have thought. McBee likely isn't going to get much better with that torn ligament in his shooting elbow. We will just have to see how long it takes Golden to get right again, if he does. Some of the newcomers like Reese and Edwards need to step up big-time.

Agree about the others; McRae, Richardson, and Makanjuola are coming along nicely. It looked like Stokes is spending more time at the high post than he has previously. He needs to be free to move to get the ball where he can do something with it rather than camp out on the low block. He can take almost any one guy, but he hardly ever has just ONE guy to beat down there.

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