Vols fall into a Steele trap, 68-65

Turnovers costly in loss to Alabama

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) reacts to a call during an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

AL.Com

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) reacts to a call during an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Three was not a magic number for Tennessee men's basketball Saturday.

Three straight turnovers led to a strained, dire ending.

A missed 3-pointer closed hopeful Volunteer eyes.

The result: a third straight loss.

Spiraling to an 0-2 start in SEC play and an 8-6 record overall, Tennessee lost 68-65 at Alabama's Coleman Coliseum.

Walking along courtside toward another disappointing postgame radio show, UT coach Cuonzo Martin described himself as "upset with the mistakes, not upset with the effort."

But with the loss, the mistakes are all anyone will talk about today.

Trailing 56-55 with just less than four minutes to go, the Vols hit a wall. It was in the form of a trapping, press defense in the middle of the floor. They couldn't get through.

A turnover by Jordan McRae led to an easy transition bucket by Alabama's Andrew Steele. Another turnover, this time by Josh Richardson, handed two free throws to Steele. A third turnover, again by Richardson, handed an open court layup to Bama's Trevor Releford.

In a blink, the Tide had their hound's-tooth hands around a back-and-forth affair. They never let go. A game-tying 3-point attempt by UT's Trae Golden — who began the game on the bench for just the second time in the Vols' last 48 games — drew iron at the final horn

"Those three turnovers, man, we need to expect the press at all times," said McRae, recounting his contribution to the collapse instead of his team-high 21 points. "I wasn't really expecting it — it looked like I was going one-on-one. I'm not going to say I panicked, but I couldn't grab the ball fast enough."

"You've got to take care of the ball in late-game situations and give yourself a chance to win the game," Martin added. "We came up short in that department."

They did in the second-half defense department, too.

Releford, Bama's leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, was held scoreless in 19 first-half minutes. In the halftime locker room, Tide coach Anthony Grant told Releford and his teammates to crank up the intensity and turn defense into offense.

Alabama Guard Trevor Lacey (5) goes up for a shot aganst Tennessee during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

Photo by VASHA HUNT

Alabama Guard Trevor Lacey (5) goes up for a shot aganst Tennessee during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

That they did. An upsurge in defense let Releford loose in transition. The crafty junior guard scored eight of Bama's first 10 points in the half as Tennessee's 28-24 halftime advantage vanished.

UT recaptured the lead twice in the final minutes, but the Tide, led by Releford, always answered. They made 15 of 24 shots after halftime.

"I just took what the defense gave me," Releford said.

Those aforementioned mistakes wiped out a 40-25 rebounding margin for the Vols.

Tennessee shot 8-for-16 from the free-throw line and committed 16 turnovers.

Alabama (9-6, 1-1) made 16 of 19 from the stripe and committed just seven turnovers.

Martin's team is still without a true road win this season.

The afternoon in Tuscaloosa began with Golden wearing a long-sleeved warm-up shirt, standing on the right side of the welcoming line for the Tennessee starters. Having missed 22 of his last 26 shots over UT's past four games, the junior point guard played as a reserve.

"I thought it was the best situation for the team and for Trae — to get Trae relaxed and settled, get him back to playing the way we think he's capable of," Martin said.

Golden scored eight points in 24 minutes on 3-for-8 shooting.

Even with freshman point guard Armani Moore receiving increased minutes, the Vols played long stretches without a true ballhandler. McRae and Richardson handled the duties at times with varying success.

"They've been guards all their lives. If I'm not mistaken, where I'm from, guards usually handle the basketball," Martin said. "So if you're a guard, you should be able to handle the basketball.

Four Alabama players finished in double figures, led by 15 from Releford and Trevor Lacey. McRae was the lone Vol in double figures.

Tennessee will take its three-game losing streak to Kentucky on Tuesday. The Vols are 16-86 all-time in Lexington.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 145

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

guess we should all be happy it was only a 3 point loss

vorangel writes:

After lackluster non-conference season, Vols need to go about 12-6 in SEC to get a look for the tournament, but 0-2 is a bad start.
The SEC is lousy, so there is a chance...

Orangeblood13 writes:

Might be worse than watching the football season
Might have same sec record, don't mean to be a downer
But not much good to watch on either end

notorange writes:

If Stokes doesn't get the led out, it's going to be a long sec stretch i'm afraid.

66Volunteer (Inactive) writes:

Vols inability to handle the ball or score points forecasts a long and miserable season, equaled only by our football team. Is there anybody in charge who cares?

UT4prez writes:

Bad loss. Our players are not smart ball players. This is exactly why I said we needed to wait before deciding on Martin and not jump to the conclusion he is an awesome coach after one decent year. No matter what I say we give him one more year but I don't like the signs. If they don't know how to beat a press and attack a zone next year then Martin needs to go.

Those 3 straight turnovers against the press were sickening. Richardson looks so bad handling the ball that sometimes I wonder if he is on the take. I seriously did when he missed that 2 handed dunk against Memphis. I've seen players miss with one hand plenty but not two. I don't think he is of course. It's just frustrating. I was even upset that there was zero urgency when we got the ball back down 3 and less than 30 seconds left. We walked the ball up the floor and wasted at least 5 seconds.

I know I'm being negative but there is some good. McRae is really stepping up. I didn't see the whole game but what little I did see looked much better from Golden. Maybe he is healing finally. And they do not ever quit. I LOVE the fight in this team. And I totally disagree with the folks that say this is as bad as buzz ball.

Lastly, I don't understand the mentality of not watching the rest of the season. I'm not ridiculing those that say that. I don't get it though. Win or lose I love watching and supporting our Vols! Go Big Orange!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Let us not be surprised. When I finally turned this game on.........there were about
9 minutes left. Just in time to see a parade to the line by Bama..........swish, swish, swish. When the Vols visited the line........clunk, clunk,clunk.

Then there was the flurry of turnovers. The Vols had a 3 point lead, then bang, 3 straight turnovers. It is getting old by now.
Stokes sitting on the bench, people seeing a Bama player going to the basket, yet disinterest in getting over there to defend the shots

The U K game won't be this close unfortunately. Guys, we want to be positive but it's tough. There has to be more than the obvious as to what's wrong here. We know there isn't a decent, quick ball handler on the team, but the look on the faces of some of these guys may be a clue. Stokes just looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the floor.............when he was in the game.

It's really hard to have much confidence the way they are playing. Seems just keeping them close is the game plan.

That one elusive game to look like a pretty good team may still be out there.
We're waiting................

That_One_Fellar writes:

Ya know, whenever Derek Fooley was running the football program straight into the ground, especially in october, I had the thought 'at least basketball season is right around the corner...' So is it baseball season yet??

wilk58 writes:

no hops, speed, quicks or ballhandling on this team except for a couple of guys. Actually one ballhandler (golden). Maybe he got a little confidence back.

MikeTheManHamiltan writes:

Now all of a sudden my basketball tickets are worthless too!!!

What is going on up there on the Hill?

jt45 writes:

Not expecting any improvements until we get a real point guard and some better inside players.Rebuild from the ground up, this bunch isnt going to be a tournament team.

Coach Martin is a bust as well IMO, there is no way he scouted Alabama or he would have known they like to press and had some kind of plan for that.

Frustrating to watch a loss that should have been a win.

GR82BTNVOL writes:

Will CM ever be able to say 'guys played a great game' rather than 'we need to move better, we need to take care of the ball, we need to make those free throws, we need to shoot better in the paint, we need to play defense the way we can etc etc etc

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

UT had another opportunity to steal a huge road win, but once again they played like choke artist in the final 4 minutes. Are they a reflection of their coach? In CCM's brief tenure at UT last minute collapses have been a common theme for the UT Vols, with no real PG and team leader they seem lost when the opposition throws out a zone in the last minute. Good effort today, but until UT gets a proven closer to finish these games it's going to be very frustrating the rest of the way.

brokebackvol writes:

BRING BACK BRUCE!!!

Ironcity writes:

in response to notorange:

If Stokes doesn't get the led out, it's going to be a long sec stretch i'm afraid.

The job done coaching Stokes has been awful He plays like he is 170 pounds on offense. Its a shame that he has been misused in the manner he has. Matins sending a message to the team when he sits Stokes, the message is I don't care if we lose as long as you know a message has been sent. Next game we can sit Mcrae. That should solidify Martins message.

willphill#241787 writes:

Slow, boring, poorly coached, losing basketball.

vol98champ writes:

Never in my 60 plus Vol sport life have I turned off a game with less than 4 minutes left and us down by 1 point. Today I did because I knew this team would find a way to loose. Who is at fault? Me or the coach?

HtownVol writes:

I am getting tired of this. I see no choice but change the way the game is managed. This team looks so much better when they just play. Turn them loose. Slowing it down kills the scoring.

What really hurts is I really dont see this getting better any time soon.

We have a great recruit coming in BUT... One great one and 2 way below average recruits does not equal improvement ( I hope I am wrong)

I have been saying for 3 years but UT has NO SCORERS! Stokes is but everyone nows he is all UT has. He gets triple teamed every time he catches the ball. If we had scorers we would take advantage of that. Then again Stokes gets so little post touches that he refuses to pass it back out.

The real killer is PG. Golden is degressing at a horrible rate and Armani Moore looks like he is not going to be a player any time soon and Lopez does nothing but dribble the ball between his legs for no reason at all.

And the PG we have coming in is not even raked one of the top 100 PG's in the country. Who knows, but that doesnt look like it will be any better.

The only posotive in next season is Maymon. Stokes will come back unless he speaks to the moron that advised Darrington Sentimore cuz Stokes has done nothing to impress this season. Maybe though he gets drafted on upside alone.

I really dont want to give up on C Martin but it is going to take some magic to turn this program around this year and keep it headed in the right direction.

In my opinion... I dont think Martin has recruited the type of player it takes to win at the highest level. After this clacc he will have signed 2 top level recruits and 6 or 7 recruits rated 3 stars or below. I like Yemi but pretty much all of the lower rated recruits are not game changers and none of them can create his own shot.

Sorry, I may hear it for this but this is all my opinion and I want to be wrong but I have seen nothing to say this will get better.

GO VOLS

ellerbee123 writes:

Wish they would "Steele" our coach.

Pompey writes:

......Tennessee basketball follows Tennessee football into the abyss.........UT athletic department headed for an historic low..........the ghost of Mike Hamilton continues to haunt......!

BearGapVol73 writes:

Mid-major effort by a mid-major team.

bigdisbig writes:

Another mid major hire equals a MAJOR mistake. Dooley = mid major = LOSER
Martin = mid major = LOSER

The misers on the hill are NOT investors for they want bargain basement coaches who cannot compete with good teams.
You get what you pay for and until the misers on the hill realize that its loserville for the Vols in every sport.

LibertyVolance writes:

I wonder how good CCM is at teaching skills. I've seen how hard Calipari works at actually teaching defensive footwork in practice to prevent penetration and defensive errors. I don't see our players developing skills.

You have to do far more than shout instructions from the sideline and bench players for defensive lapses. You have to teach them footwork in practice and techniques to make their game better.

I heard the espn commentator say that Stokes doesn't appear any better as a soph than he was in his frosh season. It seems evident that CCM and assistants aren't developing players like Stokes, Golden, and Richardson. The only player that has made a big progression so far is McRae.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

John Gruden (or, perhaps, ANY football coach, for that matter [I KNOW, I KNOW, probably wouldn't do it for all the money in the world]) might coach this team better than CCM.

GreerVol22 writes:

bad coaching, bad talent, bad result.

dvols writes:

is this season over yet?

ashvol7 writes:

in response to THECATTLEMAN_IN_CHARGE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boy, was that a bright comment!

rocky_topper writes:

Just one more year. Hang in there VOL fans.

Ironcity writes:

What bothers me is we defend and play offense one way and one way only. On defense its in your face tight man defense, no help no trapping no press no attempt to turn a player over. On offense its methodical, you see no inbound plays designed to create a score or a foul, no plays at all for that matter. I see a tremendous effort put forth by the players but their is no diversity on what we do. At the end of this game when a press is needed, UT has none. When we set up with 19 seconds Mcbee stands in one spot for 12 seconds without once moving. How does that help when your team is down by three? Once we do score a two that we didn't need, no one has the presence of mind to deny UAs best FT shooter the ball. In fact he was wide open for the in bounds play. The reason for that is we don't practice it. Our dee is not designed to turn a team over. Its only designed to make sure you stay in front of your guy. When we go up against a team where they have one player who is better then the guy defending him (Henderson, Jackson, ect) you can count on that guy going off on us. I don't see it getting better. Coach

Martin needs to look in a mirror and stop being so stubborn. He gets effort from his players but the effort seems to come with no purpose.

ronburgundy (Inactive) writes:

Bested by a team that just lost to Tulane and Mercer. This bunch is headed for the SEC cellar and fast. You just knew with a few minutes left that it was over. I don't even know what else to say.

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

Promote CCM out of the way.

Bring Bruce back when his NCAA jail time is done.

"Show cause"?? Simply look at the team.

Scoon writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

Let us not be surprised. When I finally turned this game on.........there were about
9 minutes left. Just in time to see a parade to the line by Bama..........swish, swish, swish. When the Vols visited the line........clunk, clunk,clunk.

Then there was the flurry of turnovers. The Vols had a 3 point lead, then bang, 3 straight turnovers. It is getting old by now.
Stokes sitting on the bench, people seeing a Bama player going to the basket, yet disinterest in getting over there to defend the shots

The U K game won't be this close unfortunately. Guys, we want to be positive but it's tough. There has to be more than the obvious as to what's wrong here. We know there isn't a decent, quick ball handler on the team, but the look on the faces of some of these guys may be a clue. Stokes just looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the floor.............when he was in the game.

It's really hard to have much confidence the way they are playing. Seems just keeping them close is the game plan.

That one elusive game to look like a pretty good team may still be out there.
We're waiting................

"Stokes just looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the floor."

Excuse me there, orange, but if I recall right .... isn't yor Stokes the one who got on here and with the media last year running his BIG trap of how that the vols will NEVER, EVER loose again to the Cats for as long as he's on the team? AND...that they were going to even beat us in Rupp Arena this year? Huh?? Uuuuh ... well, orange ... come Tuesday night, he's gonna get his chance to either prove those infamous words ... or ... have to eat those infamous words. And, yes, I do know that Cats haven't exactly really been on their own game quiet this year, but let's just put it this way .... uuuuh, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that he's gonna have to be aeatin those infamous words, and I am going to be there to watch. Yes. I will be at that game Tuesday night. Up close and personal.

born2ride writes:

It is time for Martin to go. Bring in Brad Stevens or Josh Pastner.

redskinvol1 writes:

The team played with heart and no quit today.If they had someone that could hold on to the ball and hit free throws at the end of the game they might win sometimes.Coach Martins style just is not exciting or winning basketball..Bring back winning.Bring back the fun.Bring back Bruce!!

Scoon writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

UT had another opportunity to steal a huge road win, but once again they played like choke artist in the final 4 minutes. Are they a reflection of their coach? In CCM's brief tenure at UT last minute collapses have been a common theme for the UT Vols, with no real PG and team leader they seem lost when the opposition throws out a zone in the last minute. Good effort today, but until UT gets a proven closer to finish these games it's going to be very frustrating the rest of the way.

If you think they choked here, today, ColdNose ... then just wait until Tuesday night when they're having to bang upon the ENORMOUS doors of Rupp Arena, in Lexington!!

Scoon writes:

Oh brother, Coach Cal just got T'ed UP!! Lol. There. I'll give you guys something to blow bout if you wanna or not... chaio.

Ironcity writes:

in response to Scoon:

"Stokes just looked like a deer in the headlights coming down the floor."

Excuse me there, orange, but if I recall right .... isn't yor Stokes the one who got on here and with the media last year running his BIG trap of how that the vols will NEVER, EVER loose again to the Cats for as long as he's on the team? AND...that they were going to even beat us in Rupp Arena this year? Huh?? Uuuuh ... well, orange ... come Tuesday night, he's gonna get his chance to either prove those infamous words ... or ... have to eat those infamous words. And, yes, I do know that Cats haven't exactly really been on their own game quiet this year, but let's just put it this way .... uuuuh, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that he's gonna have to be aeatin those infamous words, and I am going to be there to watch. Yes. I will be at that game Tuesday night. Up close and personal.

Bernard King said those words. Stokes hasn't said anything. He is quieter then a church mouse. I wish he would speak up and scream get me the ball!! Coach lets change plays so i can get the ball and drive by this 7ft slow footed guys instead of trying to [post up on them when they can easily block my shot.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Scoon:

If you think they choked here, today, ColdNose ... then just wait until Tuesday night when they're having to bang upon the ENORMOUS doors of Rupp Arena, in Lexington!!

Not expecting anything but a good effort. UT hasn't got the horses to run with tucky..GBO!

Scoon writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Bernard King said those words. Stokes hasn't said anything. He is quieter then a church mouse. I wish he would speak up and scream get me the ball!! Coach lets change plays so i can get the ball and drive by this 7ft slow footed guys instead of trying to [post up on them when they can easily block my shot.

Got news for ya, ironleggs! It was STOKES!!! I KNOW cause I rode that column HARD bout it and got balled out left and right over it, too!! STOKES! STOKES! STOKES! IT WAS STOKES! He put is size 22 foot in his thou-own-mouth!!! IT WAS STOKES!! And, YOU know it!! Period!!

VolFanHoping writes:

in response to Pompey:

......Tennessee basketball follows Tennessee football into the abyss.........UT athletic department headed for an historic low..........the ghost of Mike Hamilton continues to haunt......!

At least it should make you happy that Hammy got $1.3 million as a parting gift (that he wasn't due) from Cheeky.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

in response to Scoon:

If you think they choked here, today, ColdNose ... then just wait until Tuesday night when they're having to bang upon the ENORMOUS doors of Rupp Arena, in Lexington!!

A seven-letter word for the game at Kentucky (and perhaps others, especially after what happened the last four minutes of this game)...FORFEIT.

Scoon writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Not expecting anything but a good effort. UT hasn't got the horses to run with tucky..GBO!

Ohhhh, so all the sudden now it's Mr. Nice Bear about da Cats, huh?? Uh hun. GBB!

VolFanHoping writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

Just one more year. Hang in there VOL fans.

You mean after one more year we get a real coach?

VictorKruger writes:

in response to One_in_West_Knox:

John Gruden (or, perhaps, ANY football coach, for that matter [I KNOW, I KNOW, probably wouldn't do it for all the money in the world]) might coach this team better than CCM.

John Gruden? Never heard of him. Can't you football geniuses that troll the basketball boards even spell your heroes' names correctly? Thanks for stopping by.

chipmurphy461 writes:

When Bruce Pearl's show cause is up, fire Martin and hire Bruce. UT loves Bruce and Bruce loves UT!! Bruce has proven he can win year in and year out!!! There's no reason this basketball team should be losing these games!!!

SevenT writes:

Martin needs learn how to cheat for recruits like Pearl did. He can play that dull slow down Big 10 bruiser-ball if he wants, but he won't win squat without some talent.

eduardo writes:

Look what happens when you make the correct hire ie NC State! Could of had Shaka Smart but instead another dumb hire was made!!!

LSG410EC83 writes:

in response to UT4prez:

Bad loss. Our players are not smart ball players. This is exactly why I said we needed to wait before deciding on Martin and not jump to the conclusion he is an awesome coach after one decent year. No matter what I say we give him one more year but I don't like the signs. If they don't know how to beat a press and attack a zone next year then Martin needs to go.

Those 3 straight turnovers against the press were sickening. Richardson looks so bad handling the ball that sometimes I wonder if he is on the take. I seriously did when he missed that 2 handed dunk against Memphis. I've seen players miss with one hand plenty but not two. I don't think he is of course. It's just frustrating. I was even upset that there was zero urgency when we got the ball back down 3 and less than 30 seconds left. We walked the ball up the floor and wasted at least 5 seconds.

I know I'm being negative but there is some good. McRae is really stepping up. I didn't see the whole game but what little I did see looked much better from Golden. Maybe he is healing finally. And they do not ever quit. I LOVE the fight in this team. And I totally disagree with the folks that say this is as bad as buzz ball.

Lastly, I don't understand the mentality of not watching the rest of the season. I'm not ridiculing those that say that. I don't get it though. Win or lose I love watching and supporting our Vols! Go Big Orange!

Agree with you and will be right there watching the rest of the season. Glad it took me looking at only 6 post to find a Vol fan like myself. As for the game, another hearbreaker. Some positive's as you have pointed out, McRae is coming on strong and Golden is looking better than he has. McBee, yes I still think he deserves his time for both hustle and shooting, made a couple. Love Stokes being on the court, but when he is as close as he is many times to the basket, he should be able to rip the rim off or at least get some people in foul trouble. This team can still pull out a good season, but they are going to have to get clicking. Know there will be many on here ready to jump on my positive post, but hey, I am still proud as could be to be a Tennessee Vol. GO BIG ORANGE (Class of 83)

underthehill writes:

in response to Scoon:

Got news for ya, ironleggs! It was STOKES!!! I KNOW cause I rode that column HARD bout it and got balled out left and right over it, too!! STOKES! STOKES! STOKES! IT WAS STOKES! He put is size 22 foot in his thou-own-mouth!!! IT WAS STOKES!! And, YOU know it!! Period!!

Cool down..coal bucket..it was the Great Bernard King who make that statement and backed it up..Kentucky beat the Vols in Rupp when Bernard was a freshman and the fans there got Bernard upset..Bernard said they would never beat him again and they did not..

underthehill writes:

in response to Scoon:

Oh brother, Coach Cal just got T'ed UP!! Lol. There. I'll give you guys something to blow bout if you wanna or not... chaio.

Looks like Texas A&M just finished off the Wildkittens in Rupp..the refs didn't bail em out like they did at Vandy..

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