Seem familiar? Trae Golden went through, worked his way out of, similar struggles last season

Tennessee's Trae Golden, left, takes a shot over Alabama's Trevor Lacey during Saturday's game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Trae Golden, left, takes a shot over Alabama's Trevor Lacey during Saturday's game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The words most often heard around Tennessee men's basketball of late: "That doesn't look like the same Trae Golden."

And just like George Washington never actually said, "I cannot tell a lie," as a little boy, those words about Golden are merely revisionist history.

They are, in fact, a lie.

UT fans have indeed seen this before.

In January of 2012, the then-sophomore point guard toiled through a woeful six-game spell. Going 14 for 53 (26.4 percent) on field-goal attempts, Golden failed to shoot better than 50 percent in a single game. He reached double figures just twice and notched only three assists against seven turnovers in the final three games of the stretch.

That offense combined with Golden's wayward defense to draw the end of the line.

After a five-point, one-assist outing at Kentucky featuring multiple defensive breakdowns, UT coach Cuonzo Martin pulled Golden from his starting lineup. He joined the intro line for a home game against Georgia on Feb. 4.

Starting to sound familiar?

Golden responded in that Georgia game last year by scoring 16 points, pulling six rebounds and dealing five assists in a 73-62 win. He averaged 15.1 points to go with 4.3 assists and showed more effort defensively as the Vols went 9-3 to end the season.

This time around, Golden's struggles have been prolonged.

He's come off the bench in the past five games. Remember that stirring 25-point, five-assist showing in a win over Wichita State in December? Since then, he's averaged 8.1 points in 10 games. He produced one assist apiece in five of those outings and 32 combined in the other five.

Golden's production mirrors the Vols' offense: consistently inconsistent.

The questions fester. What's wrong? Is he still effected by a bruised left shoulder?

Following Tennessee's 54-53 win over Alabama on Saturday, Golden assured his confidence remains unshaken.

"I definitely feel like I'm a starter, but that's not my decision," he said. "I just roll with the punches. I know coach has confidence in me. My time will come and everything will work itself out."

Martin sure hopes so. Golden played a season-low 21 minutes against Alabama as UT improved to 10-8 overall and 2-4 in the SEC. He finished 0-for-4 from the field and scored three points from the free-throw line.

Golden didn't produce offense, but he did protect it. He was back as the Vols' primary ballhandler in a tight second half against Alabama's swarming full-court pressure.

Two of Golden's free throws came in crunch time with 32 seconds remaining, but he also missed the front end of a one-and-one with 15 ticks left.

"For Trae Golden, a guy that's been up and down, to be in the game down the stretch and defend the way he defended, which is not an easy thing to do, I was happy to see that," Martin said.

Golden's lack of scoring was covered by Jarnell Stokes. The sophomore power forward's 15-point, 18-rebound day was the headline.

"He played like a monster," Golden said. "The biggest thing, for him, is doing that every night."

And the biggest thing for the Vols, is for history to repeat itself and Golden to join him.

"I've said before, in order for us to be the best team we can be, we need Trae Golden and Jarnell Stokes to be out there," Martin concluded.

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

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Comments » 19

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor think he has a girlfriend or something is preoccupying him. (?) Witch Doctor not know but at that age it happens and thats all Witchy thought about at his age..still do as Im typing..lol
Bones never lie.

wigmeister writes:

Whatever it is I hope it gets better soon!

CoverOrange writes:

Trae is lucky Stokes didn't get whistled at the end, otherwise there would have been non-stop postings about him missing that FT.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor think he has a girlfriend or something is preoccupying him. (?) Witch Doctor not know but at that age it happens and thats all Witchy thought about at his age..still do as Im typing..lol
Bones never lie.

I thought the same thing, he seems distracted and is playing with no fire or energy. Dykes said he was at the shoot around from 9-10:30 and didn't speak a word the whole time.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

I thought the same thing, he seems distracted and is playing with no fire or energy. Dykes said he was at the shoot around from 9-10:30 and didn't speak a word the whole time.

Witch Doctor not hating on him but agree, he looks like he dont want to be there. (?) Witch Doctor say he dont smile, get excited or even celebrate. ((?)) Witch Doctor say on the other side that Armani Moore kid plays like there is no tomorrow...Witch Doctor really starting to like him and Reese.
Bones never lie.
McRae is turning into a star..15 pounds over the summer and he could explode his senior season.

SteelerNation writes:

Something doesn't smell right here. Golden seems disconnected from his team and coach. Also watch his team mates body language toward him. You heard it here first... Trea will not be with this team next year.

born2ride writes:

Golden is not distracted, he is just not a very good point guard.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to SteelerNation:

Something doesn't smell right here. Golden seems disconnected from his team and coach. Also watch his team mates body language toward him. You heard it here first... Trea will not be with this team next year.

Go Ravens!!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor not hating on him but agree, he looks like he dont want to be there. (?) Witch Doctor say he dont smile, get excited or even celebrate. ((?)) Witch Doctor say on the other side that Armani Moore kid plays like there is no tomorrow...Witch Doctor really starting to like him and Reese.
Bones never lie.
McRae is turning into a star..15 pounds over the summer and he could explode his senior season.

I think he's hurt and we don't know it
Zo is hush on it

FeelVol writes:

Something's definitely affecting his game,don't know if he's having girlfriend problems or missing his big buddy Jeronne Maymon who I think was the best leader for this team and what concerns me is what happens next year when he returns will he be the vocal leader or will Jordan McRae?My feeling is that the team will rally around Maymons' leadership.I guess what I'm really trying to say is that our team chemistry just hasn't been what it was last year without the leadership of Maymon and perhaps Golden has been most affected.In conclusion though its probably a girl messing with his head. Go Vols and lets beat Vandy!!!

brod writes:

his last good game was against wichita state. if he can get going again the team might finish above .500.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

First off..Martin like Pearl needs to get a JUCO PG cause we need help NOW..Golden isn't a top flight PG but we are usually a better team with him in the game..Missing that FT against Bama tells me something is still very wrong..Normally Trae is automatic on FT's

mocsandvolsfan writes:

It's a girl. It's school work. It's homesickness. His dog is sick. He's injured. He's got a belly ache. He hates being at point. He doesn't want to play with others. He hasn't had his coffee. It's the strong drink.
He's not playing very well.

So play someone else.

carbonzip writes:

Trae is the only reliable guard to get the ball up court under a press.

CoverOrange writes:

Maybe he started reading this board.

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Maybe he started reading this board.

He's shooting 35% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Those are abominable numbers from someone who feels he's an SEC starter. Even if you blame the shooting percentages from the field on shot selection forced by a poor team offense, his free throw shooting is down 10% from last year.

He is not meeting the standard of play that is required of your starting point guard, and he is not meeting the standard he set last year.

Something clearly needs fixing.

RememberWhen writes:

He's not an SEC caliber point guard. End of story. He can't shoot. He's not that great defensively. He's not a great distributor. He takes bad shots and makes bad decisions with the ball. So, other than that, I'm sure he's a decent kid but I hope he's studying hard 'cause he'll never make a dime playing this game.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Trae is the only reliable guard to get the ball up court under a press.

LOL! I never thought I'd wish we had Maze back. I guess if I'm wishing I should wish for Smith & Lofton.

I agree though. Maybe all the "moore" reason to play younger and get them better. Or play McRae and get him better.

I like Trae but he ain't "gettin' er done".

Whatever is wrong doesn't need to affect the team.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

He's not an SEC caliber point guard. End of story. He can't shoot. He's not that great defensively. He's not a great distributor. He takes bad shots and makes bad decisions with the ball. So, other than that, I'm sure he's a decent kid but I hope he's studying hard 'cause he'll never make a dime playing this game.

That's a little harsh. He has shown in the past that he can play very well indeed. That is why this current slump has everybody so puzzled. I don't think he is NBA material--not solid enough on the handle for PG, too small to play shooting guard--but he can make a nice living playing overseas if he wants that. I just want to see the "good" Trae for the rest of this season, and ALL of next season. Without a better alternative at PG, he is all they've got unless CCM gets a JUCO guy. Jordan can play it some, but it takes away from his own scoring when he does. I don't see anybody else on this team that can do it more reliably.

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