UT's prayers answered as Vanderbilt misses chances to win at buzzer

Vols hold on to win 2nd SEC game in a row

Tennessee guard Brandon Lopez (24) celebrates after the Vols' 58-57 win over Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Tennessee won 58-57 over Vanderbilt. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Brandon Lopez (24) celebrates after the Vols' 58-57 win over Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Tennessee won 58-57 over Vanderbilt. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Looking up while praying to above, Skylar McBee watched as another potential heartbreak hung like the collective breath held in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday night.

Vanderbilt's Kevin Bright, the man McBee was supposed to be blocking out, pushed the ball back toward the hoop. A final second stood on the clock.

McBee has seen how this movie ends before. The Vols entered the rivalry meeting against Vandy with a 2-5 record in games decided by eight points or less.

"I was on the floor thinking, if we lose this game, I don't know what I'll do tonight," McBee said later.

"They might have to commit me."

McBee will be in class today. The asylum can wait.

After squandering every inch of an early 19-5 lead, Tennessee escaped the Commodores for a 58-57 win. Bright's put-back on a last-ditch layup by Vanderbilt's Kedren Johnson came up short and a second missed tip came late.

"Thank goodness," McBee said with the smile of a thief.

Indeed, UT stole a victory that very nearly sucked the life out of the 16,391 on hand.

Groans accompanied UT's 1-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line in the final 51.6 seconds. McBee made one of two, while Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes each missed the front-end of one-and-ones.

The Vols got the stops needed, though, to end a game they opened with a 12-0 lead.

"In order to get to something, you have to go through something," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "I think for our guys, going through tough losses, it's a tough group, it's a resilient group. Those losses can really take a toll."

Winning a game Martin described as "a boxing match," the Vols improved to 11-8 , 3-4 in the SEC. Tuesday night and Saturday's win over Alabama marked the team's first back-to-back victories since late December

"We're rolling now," said UT sophomore Josh Richardson, who scored six points to go with 10 rebounds. "The ball is rolling. I feel we have the potential to be like last year, get on a roll and finish high in the conference."

Another monster stat line from Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes — 19 points, 11 rebounds, including seven offensive — was nearly for naught. He scored or assisted on the team's first six field goals.

Thanks to that effort, UT opened the night scoring 19 points over the first 9 minutes, 28 seconds. Then the flood ended.

It took another 18 minutes for the Vols to score their next 19.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt (8-11, 2-5) went scoreless for the first 6:47 of the game. The 'Dores, who average just 59.8 points per game, couldn't muster clean shot attempts, let alone points.

Finally, relief came in the form of unheralded 6-foot-11 sophomore Josh Henderson. Giving it back to Stokes, Henderson tied his career high of 13 points. He helped power a lengthy stretch that saw Vandy outscore UT, 48-33, to tie the game at 52 with 5:59 remaining.

The Vols countered with their own unexpected scorer. McBee made three 3-pointers, his most since making four against Presbyterian on Dec. 18, to finish with 10 points. He had made two 3s total in the last four games.

"I just wasn't thinking about it tonight," McBee said. "It was good to see a few go in."

Johnson aided Vandy with 14 points, all coming in the second half.

Tennessee lost junior point guard Trae Golden to a right hamstring injury at the end of a first half it led 27-23.

At halftime, Martin told walk-on point guard Brandon Lopez to, "Be ready."

He was, despite not playing in the last five games. Acting as, what Richardson called, "a little spark plug running around the court," Lopez steadied the UT offense. He went scoreless in 10 minutes, but contributed three deft assists and didn't commit a turnover.

"Brandon just knows what's going on out there," Martin said.

"He changed the complexion of the game being out there," Richardson added.

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

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Comments » 137

SevenT writes:

Home Cookin'

born2ride writes:

It must be god awful being a Vandy fan.

SummittsCourt writes:

Sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good... twice in three days is really doing something. Either way, Vols are winning and that is a good thing.

vol98champ writes:

Same ole Vols. Awful in the last 7 minutes. How in the world do we stop this madness?

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Same ole Vols. Awful in the last 7 minutes. How in the world do we stop this madness?

Hire a better coach. Get better players.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I'll take it..But, UT missing those FT's at the end really made things tougher than it should have been. I wish I could have been there to tease fat-head Stallings as he was exiting TBA..Chanting: NIT-NIT!!

killdevil writes:

Any coaching clinics out there for Coach Martin to attend with some help with the offensive side of the team. I think Coach Martin goes out and hires an assistant with an offensive backgound, they try to run some flex/motion but it appears to be over their head when it comes to floor spacing quick passes to cutters. We know the obvious the Vols need a true point. I know Lopez was pumped but he got beat to the rim on the final play -he's doing his best but that ball just rolled the right way for the Vols. I just think we need an assistant for Coach Martin who can develop the offensive of the Vols game plan>

hikerdude writes:

Well, we won but it was blind a** luck. Not much talent and poor coaching. BBB

golfman1975 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

Wish we would have got some...

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

You'll need it against Old Mess..Just sayin'

VictorKruger writes:

That was the luckiest win in recent times. Hopefully Lopez can keep contributing and making those pretty passes since it looks like Golden is going to be out again. It's pretty cool that the team has 3 6'5" players with arms long enough to block shots from behind, but I wish they'd stop the drive by getting in front of the player first!

vol98champ writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Hire a better coach. Get better players.

SC, I always look forward to your posts, but there has to be more to it than coach and players. For about 25 minutes of each game we play great and then for the other 15 minutes we look like we never saw a basketball or a coach.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

article is on at 9:21, this loser is first poster at 9:25, SevenTeeth could be a KNS cubicle troll

Ironcity writes:

Vandy lost the game UT didn't win it. There is no one on this team that believes. We need some one to will this team to victory. It sure would have been nice if our coach would have thought about recruiting a PG in his first two years on the job. If that injury is bad to Golden it will get even uglier if thats possible.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Another tough contest. McRae and Stokes really struggling at the line, plus McRae's turnovers. Even McBee missed his free throw which is unusual. Sorely in need of a good point guard, but to their credit the team is playing hard.

Hope Golden will be okay. Did you notice how quiet that place was tonight?

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I try not to get to POed watching these games and Iam usually positive but that one takes the cake..Just when you think we might turn the corner and show some consistency BAM; another brick wall..Only thing consistent is Late turnovers and clanking free throws that would ice the game..I give Vandy a lot of credit for playing really good defense and using the zone to get an advantage but I don't even know what kind of offensive mess you call that..I saw Lopez set up a play but the whole thing just looks like McRae making it up as he's going along

BigVolinCarolina writes:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

movol77 writes:

For the coach whiners and criers -
Anyone who has watched CCM's career for more than a few months knows that he is an excellent coach! The cupboard was not exactly full when he got here. Signed Stokes to the surprise of many. Certainly didn't cause the infection to Maymon. Stop crying and use your brains.

Ironcity writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

I try not to get to POed watching these games and Iam usually positive but that one takes the cake..Just when you think we might turn the corner and show some consistency BAM; another brick wall..Only thing consistent is Late turnovers and clanking free throws that would ice the game..I give Vandy a lot of credit for playing really good defense and using the zone to get an advantage but I don't even know what kind of offensive mess you call that..I saw Lopez set up a play but the whole thing just looks like McRae making it up as he's going along

Mcrae making it up is our best offense when he doesn't roll it off his leg. don't know what I would do if we had a couple of fast break pts every now and then.

redskinvol1 writes:

A win is a win.Must find a free throw maker.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Team play is not so ugly, but we sure play a lousy game. I guess if ugly is the same as lousy, then it is what it is. Gets harder each week to watch this team.

movol77 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

Fairly accurate. I saw his is MO St. teams play many times. CCM just needs a couple of shooters for his style to start cruising to 8-10 point wins. He developed a loser (MOS) into a conference leader (MVC is best mid-major bb). Since he left, MOS is back to its avg way. CCM is an excellent coach. He will get it done.

Ironcity writes:

in response to movol77:

For the coach whiners and criers -
Anyone who has watched CCM's career for more than a few months knows that he is an excellent coach! The cupboard was not exactly full when he got here. Signed Stokes to the surprise of many. Certainly didn't cause the infection to Maymon. Stop crying and use your brains.

He could have recruited a PG somewhere along the line and the cupboard was not empty as you say. 4 four star players is not an empty cupboard.

Tennfan4075 writes:

Does anyone really care? One bad team somehow beats another bad team. C'mom folks this is a win but this team is not getting any better.

Ironcity writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

Well stated. I like Martin and want to see him succeed but this team he has this year is brutal to watch.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

It was a win. I'll take it. But I just wish this team could put together a good, consistent 40-minute game. Then they would be able to take care of business in some games, like they should have against Vandy. I honestly think that this team can play with anybody in this conference (including the Gators at TBA later), but they can also lose to anybody in the conference as well. Simply said, nothing is guaranteed with this team.

movol77 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

He could have recruited a PG somewhere along the line and the cupboard was not empty as you say. 4 four star players is not an empty cupboard.

Name the so-called 4* heavyweights he inherited currently playing. Then name the starting freshman PG that he missed.

Basketvol writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

You need to work on some new material. Same ole same ole.

jt45 writes:

Glad to see the Vols get another win, every win this group gets is an accomplishment.

movol77 writes:

in response to jt45:

Glad to see the Vols get another win, every win this group gets is an accomplishment.

ditto

jt45 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

Says the resident expert on home cooking.

vol98champ writes:

in response to movol77:

Name the so-called 4* heavyweights he inherited currently playing. Then name the starting freshman PG that he missed.

Mcrae, Golden, Hall, And Chris Jones. Oh yeah Jones is playing; just not for the vols. Shelby?. Not a freshman, but one H---of a miss.

6futurevols writes:

in response to Ironcity:

He could have recruited a PG somewhere along the line and the cupboard was not empty as you say. 4 four star players is not an empty cupboard.

and how many good PGs did Pearl recruit? CJ Watson was a Peterson hold over if I recall correctly. We had average PGs most of the time under Pearl, and what Cuonzo inherited was below average. Yes, we need to get a true PG, but my point (no pun) is that it takes time to recruit PGs. Hopefully Landry, though only a 2 star, will help fill that need. I like what I see out of Moore (a 2 star) and Richardson (a 3 star), so I am overly concerned about the rating. Of course, it would be great to get a 4 or 5 star PG, but that is not going to happen here unless we start winning at a high and consistent level.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

I think I agree with a couple of others on this board. I just do not see improvement on this team. Should we not see improvement? I am for the coach and his staff and also for the players. I just would like to see some improvement. I don't know that much about BB, but I know when something looks good, and this brand of BB does not look good. I hope improvement comes in the future. We are for you coach!!!!!!!!

keepitreal4vols writes:

So, anything exciting happen in tonights game? I left with 3 min remaining....

Basketvol writes:

If I hadn't witnessed the game first-hand--and just read these comments--I would think the Vols lost the game. You don't get to have it both ways. Last week it was, "when are they going to win one of these close games at the end?" They just did--twice, and it's followed by more whining and complaining. I know Vandy isn't very good this year, but it's still an in-state rivalry against another SEC team. Not to mention the win against Alabama. If this team is as bad as the naysayers claim, then why not give them just a pinch of credit instead of more moaning and groaning. This might not be a great Tennessee team, but we can still beat Vandy!

Jarnell Stokes needs to keep playing the way he has the last two games. Keep giving Armani Moore minutes, he gets better every game. Reese has potential. McRae had an off night but he'll be back. It's not over yet. Go Vols!

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

In "Big" agreement on this one. Martin seems to take a Big-10 type approach to a basketball game, be physical, play good defense, rebound well at both ends, and look for high-percentage scoring opportunities. Nothing wrong with any of this. Martin's pedigree is from Purdue, and it's pretty obvious that he has brought that style with him.

But one thing that several of these like-minded Big-10 teams have that UT doesn't is some decent 3-point shooting (Wisconsin comes to mind). Martin needs to recruit some guys who are offensive threats from the 3-point line, in order to make whatever offense he uses more effective. He may give up something on the defensive end, but he'll gain when Tenn has the ball. Bottom line, I think Martin will win more than his share of games while he's here, but to have a real breakout season, he's going to have to have another Chris Lofton-type scorer or two to take UT to another level.

VinylVols writes:

This team clearly doesn't want to win easy.
How do you blow a 14 point lead, then work back up to an 11 point lead and almost lose. Doesn't make sense.

wigmeister writes:

When a team jumps out to a huge lead, it is hard for that team to hold that lead as they get lazy. Only the best shooting teams with good coaching do not fall into this trap. They almost blew it again. Thankfully they pulled it out. I said at the beginning of the season that they are missing scorers. Can we bring Lofton back???? CCM better recruit shooters. The beginning of the game was fun to watch. Stokes was active and imposing his will. CCM has to teach them that it is a 40 minute game! They do seem to get sloppy in 2nd halves.

vorangel writes:

What a poorly written story. As pathetic as the game and the season.

movol77 writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Mcrae, Golden, Hall, And Chris Jones. Oh yeah Jones is playing; just not for the vols. Shelby?. Not a freshman, but one H---of a miss.

This constitutes a 4* cupboard of inheritance? McCrae can score. And then...

CCM is building.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

Kentucky's system(s), whatever it(they) is(are), brought them 8 national titles, and possibly at least 8 more before this team can reach again or go beyond the Elite 8.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Way to pull out the close game guys! It's always fun to beat the Commode doors. We're still Tennessee and they are Vanderbilt.

Fight on Big Orange, Fight on!

claiborneh writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I knew the moment that UT hired Cuonzo Martin that it would be hard for everyone (players and fans) to adjust to his style of play.

I remember watching Cuonzo play in college under Purdue's Gene Keady. Cuonzo runs the same sytem as Keady--focus on defense and run a methodical offense.(Quite a contrast to Pearl's system).

Martin's approach is essentially BuzzBall (remember Buzz Peterson) but with better players. As with any coach at any level, the key is to win games. If you don't win, no one will want to come see you play--and that adage is all-the-more true in a system like Cuonzo's. This system is geared for games in the mid-50's, and it only works if you can impose your defensive will on your opponent.

It was the right thing for Pearl to get the boot. I wish Cuonzo the best, but his teams have little margin for error under his system. Hope we can keep winning! Go Big Orange!!

In 25 years at Purdue, Gene Keady won ZERO national championships, and went to ZERO final fours.
I'm not a loyal basketball fan, and by no means do I consider myself very knowledgable of the sport.
All I know is I do not enjoy watching this brand of basketball. I find it boring and uninspiring.
In addition despite the positive commentary consistently pointing out the Gene Keady/ Purdue system that Martin coaches, it seems to me that the fact Keady never won a championship in 25 seasons with the system is indicative it is the wrong system. Why do people keep pointing to Purdue history as if it is some great association. The only thing I remember is boring basketball and a ridiculous combover.

1vavolfan writes:

I'm usually pretty critical of this team and CCM but to read these posts you would think we had lost the game. Golden was out, he is the guy who makes our foul shots at the end, if he takes them instead of Skyler and McRae we win by 4. To beat Vandy with a walk on having to play point is not an easy task. I was at the arena and it was an awesome game against a rival opponent, these games are never easy and you armchair coaches should know better than to think they would be.

justafan4ut writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

So, anything exciting happen in tonights game? I left with 3 min remaining....

We Won!, Better than losing, I think.

claiborneh writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

I'm usually pretty critical of this team and CCM but to read these posts you would think we had lost the game. Golden was out, he is the guy who makes our foul shots at the end, if he takes them instead of Skyler and McRae we win by 4. To beat Vandy with a walk on having to play point is not an easy task. I was at the arena and it was an awesome game against a rival opponent, these games are never easy and you armchair coaches should know better than to think they would be.

More Tennessee "if"s. this fanbase has been used to "ifing" for decades.
IF the kid makes the open layup at the end, Vanderbilt wins.
Boring, uninspiring basketball. Boring uninspiring listless coaching.
The most exciting thing about this team and coach is that hideous orange sport coat- which Pearl resurrected.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to killdevil:

Any coaching clinics out there for Coach Martin to attend with some help with the offensive side of the team. I think Coach Martin goes out and hires an assistant with an offensive backgound, they try to run some flex/motion but it appears to be over their head when it comes to floor spacing quick passes to cutters. We know the obvious the Vols need a true point. I know Lopez was pumped but he got beat to the rim on the final play -he's doing his best but that ball just rolled the right way for the Vols. I just think we need an assistant for Coach Martin who can develop the offensive of the Vols game plan>

You're probably not right... if he would have pressed more, it would have probably caused a foul.... apparently Martin called the right play, by telling him not to foul or press too hard to draw a foul... maybe you might wanna make a showing at the next clinic

GO VOLS!!!

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to SevenT:

Home Cookin'

Are you seriously talking about home cooking....
Your favorite team plays in corrupt Arena.... The buffet of all home cooking..... If you say something stupid like that again.... I might just have to come and find you... You have come up with some zingers before, But that 1 takes the cake.... The only reason Kentucky has a winning record right now is because of Rupp Arena Or otherwise known in the SEC as corrupt arena

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to GrandCanyonVol:

I think I agree with a couple of others on this board. I just do not see improvement on this team. Should we not see improvement? I am for the coach and his staff and also for the players. I just would like to see some improvement. I don't know that much about BB, but I know when something looks good, and this brand of BB does not look good. I hope improvement comes in the future. We are for you coach!!!!!!!!

I think when you win by 1point the last couple games, instead of losing by 3 or 4 points the last few games, shows improvement... but that's just my opinion, and common sense but who knows, I'm just thinking out loud

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