Vols lose to Alabama, will play the waiting game for NCAA tournament

Offense sputters in SEC elimination

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) swats a shot by Alabama guard Levi Randolph (20) while teammate forward Jarnell Stokes (5) and guard Trae Golden (11) defend during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) swats a shot by Alabama guard Levi Randolph (20) while teammate forward Jarnell Stokes (5) and guard Trae Golden (11) defend during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) swats a shot by Alabama guard Levi Randolph (20) while teammate forward Jarnell Stokes (5) and guard Trae Golden (11) defend during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Armani Moore (4) swats a shot by Alabama guard Levi Randolph (20) while teammate forward Jarnell Stokes (5) and guard Trae Golden (11) defend during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson (1) goes up for a basket and draws a foul from Alabama during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. Alabama won 58-48 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson (1) goes up for a basket and draws a foul from Alabama during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Friday, March 15, 2013. Alabama won 58-48 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

NASHVILLE — Sitting courtside, Cuonzo Martin ran his thumb across his iPhone.

Scores scrolled.

La Salle fell to Butler. Virginia took a loss to N.C. State.

Bursting bubbles.

Martin winced, shaking his head. The Tennessee men’s basketball coach learned just how big of an opportunity existed Friday afternoon.

Behind him, a Bridgestone Arena employee pushed a broom across the floor, wiping away the remnants of the Vols’ 58-48 SEC tournament quarterfinal loss to Alabama.

The chance was there for Tennessee to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament field. That chance was lost. The ink has dried on UT’s resume and now all clocks are set for 6 p.m. Sunday — the NCAA tournament Selection Show.

“We did our job,” Martin declared. “We deserve (the NCAA tournament).”

Friday could have helped that argument. Instead,

the fifth-seeded Vols succumbed to a relentless Alabama defense. They made just 18 of 56 field goals, missing 22 of 29 in a decisive second half.

“I told our guys, ‘You won nine of the last 10 — now you’re nine of your last 11 — you just happened to lose one in the SEC tournament,’ ” said Martin, whose Vols stand at 20-12 on the year. “We didn’t play well. Now we keep moving.”

Leading 31-27 after a hotly contested first half, fourth-seeded Alabama (21-11) took control midway through the second half. Holding a 44-41 edge with just more than 12 minutes remaining, the Tide rattled off six straight points to push UT into a nine-point hole. The Vols couldn’t recover.

After Tennessee cut the deficit to four with five minutes remaining, Alabama’s Levi Randolph banked in a circus shot to quell the momentum.

Josh Richardson led the Vols with 16 points. Making six of 12 shots, the sophomore guard was the lone UT player to shoot 50 percent or better.

“I was struggling and Jordan (McRae) got in foul trouble,” Trae Golden said. “(Richardson) picked up the slack for us. He was great.”

McRae, a first-team All-SEC selection, was saddled by what he called, “Dumb fouls here and there,” and languished through a 3-for-13, nine-point day. Golden powered UT to an early 13-8 lead with four assists in the game’s opening five minutes. He finished with five and made only one field goal.

McRae, Golden and Jarnell Stokes combined for nine points in the second half.

“We’re a tournament team,” Stokes said. “There’s no way one game should define our season like a lot of people are making it seem.”

Randolph led the Tide with 15 points, while fellow guard Trevor Releford added 14. The win pushed Alabama, a bubble team in its own right, to a semifinal today against top-seeded Florida.

With 12 points and 13 rebounds, Stokes notched his 15th double-double of the season, the most by a Vol since Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77.

It wasn’t enough.

Alabama made 12 of 15 second-half free throws and let its defense handle the rest. After McRae hit a 3-pointer cutting the Tide’s lead to 44-41, Tennessee could only muster two made shots in the closing 12 minutes, 10 seconds — both in transition.

The Vols opened the game making six of seven shots. They missed 37 of their next 49.

“I don’t know if we were necessarily frustrated, we just didn’t make shots,” Martin said. “When you’re in a grind-it-out-game with a score of 58-48, a lot of guys didn’t make shots and plays.”

And now, in Golden’s words, UT’s fate is “in someone else’s hands.”

Today will be a long day. Sunday will be longer.

“It’s one of those things where you worry yourself to death on something you can’t control,” UT’s Skylar McBee said.

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

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Comments » 232

KENVOL writes:

Hope they don't go and embarrass themselves.

peerless1 writes:

Well...THAT was a sucky ayuz performance-well done guys. Sorry, but dang u did NOT want it bad enuff. wow.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say here comes the comments of the "little people" like KENVOL..only here to whine..Witch Doctor say enjoy your little self!
Bones never lie.

TheEffect writes:

Pop.

VOLFROMNC writes:

Out played, out coached, and out hustled. We had no clue how to get the ball up the court with their pressure. I really hope we don't go to the tourney and get embarrassed in the first round.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

A sagging zone strikes again..I still think UT will be a 12 seed, but there is no reason to play man against them because UT is so ineffective against a zone.

SevenT writes:

There are a few givens in life: death taxes and Tennessee losing to Alabama

eb502us#225637 writes:

I was hoping we'd go but realistically we are not an NCAA tournament team.

Sure we won 20 games but the SEC as a whole is just plain bad and some of our best wins should have asterisks next to them. We beat a UK team in their first game without Noel, we beat UF without two of their best players and we beat Missouri who can't beat anybody on the road.

This team doesn't have the talent necessary to compete against the best and our coach still has a lot to learn about adjusting to what the other team is doing. I have hope for Cuonzo but unless he's brings in elite talent, I don't know if we'll ever get over the hump.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

With the hand writing on the wall, at the 8 minute mark, it was more exciting for me at least to keep the blood pressure under control and go out in the yard to do some yardwork. I see nothing basically changed after the 8 minute mark.

Here's my theory. They bought into this Jimmy Dykes talk.........."they're already in."
"No need to beat Alabama".......plus they obviously didn't want to face Florida. So let's see if they have rolled the dice with that line of thinking and can get what this effort was pointing to.

My hope is that they're in, but in all liklihod, will be in the UVA grouping.

BrassMonkey writes:

At least they will be fresh for the NIT. This is the most talent in the SEC with the worst coaching. How long do we put up with this mediocre system?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to SevenT:

There are a few givens in life: death taxes and Tennessee losing to Alabama

Witch Doctor say dont forget SevenT..living a the Vols boards with hurt feelings!
Bones never lie.

GR82BTNVOL writes:

in response to TheEffect:

Pop.

Get ready it'll come full circle.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

A sagging zone strikes again..I still think UT will be a 12 seed, but there is no reason to play man against them because UT is so ineffective against a zone.

12-seed in the dance is a bit optimistic. Their fate is definitely out of their hands. Obviously, I hope they get in. But they always lay a freaking egg in the conference tournament. I'm thinking they'll be a play-in team; guess we'll see.

peerless1 writes:

u know---i could accept a loss by the VOLS in a gutty well played game by 2 two teams fighting for the NCAA tourney but only one team wanted it in the 2nd half--and they won--Coach--whats your excuse?

jmatt62 writes:

Golden & McRae go combined 4-20 in biggest game of the year. That just won't get it done.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to SevenT:

There are a few givens in life: death taxes and Tennessee losing to Alabama

Kind of a stupid thing to say "given" that we beat Alabama last time....oh, wait, just saw who the source was. Now I understand.

volcycle writes:

In my life it doesn't matter who the coach is, it's the same ole' Tennessee when it comes to the SEC tourney. We haven't had a good tournament showing since Don Devoe. This is just a frustrating time of year. Why do we even watch and get our hopes up?

KENVOL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say here comes the comments of the "little people" like KENVOL..only here to whine..Witch Doctor say enjoy your little self!
Bones never lie.

Glad you enjoyed the game.

runninbroke writes:

You all are killing me.... GO PULL FOR VANDY IF YOU FEEL THIS WAY!! And switch to their football team too. This is basketball, no one plays great all the time and if you don't shoot free throws well or make shots, you lose.. Can't win them all. And yes, we are an NCAA team but we will see. I'm tired of hearing about beating teams with asterisks beside them. WE haven't had our best player ALL SEASON!! With these guys returning plus Maymon, next year will be a great year! This one is not over yet..

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

With the hand writing on the wall, at the 8 minute mark, it was more exciting for me at least to keep the blood pressure under control and go out in the yard to do some yardwork. I see nothing basically changed after the 8 minute mark.

Here's my theory. They bought into this Jimmy Dykes talk.........."they're already in."
"No need to beat Alabama".......plus they obviously didn't want to face Florida. So let's see if they have rolled the dice with that line of thinking and can get what this effort was pointing to.

My hope is that they're in, but in all liklihod, will be in the UVA grouping.

Ironically, If 'Bama makes a run and wins the SEC, that may help UT out yet.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to KENVOL:

Glad you enjoyed the game.

Witch Doctor also here for the Wins instead of being miserable and having to go to bed mad cause you cant come here and post like this...thanks for playing!
Bones never lie.

vorangel writes:

I have to agree on all points. The SEC is weak. Pathetic. Four teams is too many to go to the dance from this conference.
This team has been so inconsistent. Disappointing ending.

AHOUSE writes:

in response to VOLFROMNC:

Out played, out coached, and out hustled. We had no clue how to get the ball up the court with their pressure. I really hope we don't go to the tourney and get embarrassed in the first round.

Yes, they were out coached on offense and defense, couldn't handle the screens, shoot fowls or lay ups.
Hopefully a better game is coming soon.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

12-seed in the dance is a bit optimistic. Their fate is definitely out of their hands. Obviously, I hope they get in. But they always lay a freaking egg in the conference tournament. I'm thinking they'll be a play-in team; guess we'll see.

You could be right, but I think a lot of people are forgetting UT's win over UMASS. They are a solid bb team that also have an outside shot as an at large birth.

peerless1 writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Ironically, If 'Bama makes a run and wins the SEC, that may help UT out yet.

Absolutely at this point we need Bama to win the SEC tourney--best scenario to help us--so go Bama now!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Ironically, If 'Bama makes a run and wins the SEC, that may help UT out yet.

USNavy,

That's a good point. They certainly had more going for them in this game. Bama looked much quicker and stymied the Vols all around the rim.

I don't wish to bad mouth the Vols individually.
These games happen at tournament time. There will be a lot of surprises.

The Lizards best not get too cocky.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

You could be right, but I think a lot of people are forgetting UT's win over UMASS. They are a solid bb team that also have an outside shot as an at large birth.

Um...I'd be one of those that forgot... seems like so long ago. And they only lost to G-town by 2, and they're kicking arse.

suggest_removal_4_all_troll_posts writes:

in response to SevenT:

There are a few givens in life: death taxes and Tennessee losing to Alabama

I'd add the psychological imbalance of a troll as another given.

NorthwestVol writes:

I hate to say it but after watching that I don't think they deserved a NCAA bid. Time after time unable to stop a basic fundamental pick and roll. Hope they take the NIT seriously this time around or decline the invite.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Um...I'd be one of those that forgot... seems like so long ago. And they only lost to G-town by 2, and they're kicking arse.

Not to be picky, but I'm almost certain UT lost to GT by one digit and had the ball for the final seconds.

AprilDawnRX writes:

in response to runninbroke:

You all are killing me.... GO PULL FOR VANDY IF YOU FEEL THIS WAY!! And switch to their football team too. This is basketball, no one plays great all the time and if you don't shoot free throws well or make shots, you lose.. Can't win them all. And yes, we are an NCAA team but we will see. I'm tired of hearing about beating teams with asterisks beside them. WE haven't had our best player ALL SEASON!! With these guys returning plus Maymon, next year will be a great year! This one is not over yet..

Agreed....a week ago, CCM was Coach of the Year and the program was on the upswing....play "sub par" and fickle fans want him fired and bringing CBP back into the fold....last time I checked, CCM isn't the one on the court reaching in on defense and being lazy and no motion on offense....he can't do it all; those men are MEN and they have to bring it and take it to another level on their own....we are playing without a true point guard/ball handler and a young team....CCM brought them from the basement in January to being competitive and beating some of the best teams in the SEC....he has my support....

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

We need a point guard with quickness who can penetrate, dish, and defend in the worst way. We just couldn't get anything going today as Alabama is a bad match-up fo us. 20 wins without Maymon is still a good season and hopefully we will still make it into the field. Lets Go Vandy and Missouri

rtrchatt writes:

2nd half reminded me of a Bama/UT fb game. You got
DOMINATED........Roll Tide and another great day in WKnoxv, home of rocky flop U.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to NorthwestVol:

I hate to say it but after watching that I don't think they deserved a NCAA bid. Time after time unable to stop a basic fundamental pick and roll. Hope they take the NIT seriously this time around or decline the invite.

Northwest,

You are correct. Trouble with them is this......you never know their attitude when they show up. If it's the NIT, I would hope they don't show up like "we're the best in this tournament" and act disinterested.

Everyone is going to be disappointed, even in the big dance..........except for the ones cutting down the nets. A loss is out there waiting for everyone else.

Oh, a quick comment to the kid, Seven teeth.
Things guaranteed are: death, taxes, and Tennessee drubbing the bandwagon kid's adopted team by 30 points..

peerless1 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Not to be picky, but I'm almost certain UT lost to GT by one digit and had the ball for the final seconds.

Correct-37-36 GT

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

2nd half reminded me of a Bama/UT fb game. You got
DOMINATED........Roll Tide and another great day in WKnoxv, home of rocky flop U.

Ah, yes, Alabama...where no credit card is safe.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to peerless1:

Correct-37-36 GT

My mistake.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

You have to play big in big games. UT did not do that. As the ole saying goes, maybe next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Ah, yes, Alabama...where no credit card is safe.

And the slogan from Krystal's: "Grab a Sack" has taken a new meaning.

ACWLY writes:

JOHN ADAMS ... I was watching the game on TV, once when it highlighted the two announcers you could see JOHN ADAMS sitting at the reporters table behind them. (No name tag but if this wasn't ADAMS then it was his twin)... and ADAMS WAS WEARING AN ALABAMA CRIMSON RED long sleeve Tee shirt (jersey style). ... DID ANYONE ELSE SEE THIS? Please post as I will be contacting KNS about this. THANK YOU

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Northwest,

You are correct. Trouble with them is this......you never know their attitude when they show up. If it's the NIT, I would hope they don't show up like "we're the best in this tournament" and act disinterested.

Everyone is going to be disappointed, even in the big dance..........except for the ones cutting down the nets. A loss is out there waiting for everyone else.

Oh, a quick comment to the kid, Seven teeth.
Things guaranteed are: death, taxes, and Tennessee drubbing the bandwagon kid's adopted team by 30 points..

Dumbest logic ever. Lots of teams that will make the field have looked bad lately or will look bad in their tourneys at some point. So do you not choose any of them? Go with 54 teams? If Bama loses tomorrow-their top 50 wins don"t match up with UT's.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to ACWLY:

JOHN ADAMS ... I was watching the game on TV, once when it highlighted the two announcers you could see JOHN ADAMS sitting at the reporters table behind them. (No name tag but if this wasn't ADAMS then it was his twin)... and ADAMS WAS WEARING AN ALABAMA CRIMSON RED long sleeve Tee shirt (jersey style). ... DID ANYONE ELSE SEE THIS? Please post as I will be contacting KNS about this. THANK YOU

Witch Doctor hears he sends this Christmas cards with him in his crimson undies..Witch Doctor say sweater ok...really just a sweater? ok! lol
Bones never lie.

govols26 writes:

Said it before and I'll say it again, this team only plays well when they are winning. As soon as the other team makes a run or our players start off with cold shooting, they just seem to quit and there is no leadership- no one that wants to take the ball and get a bucket when one is needed badly. That and their coach shows zero emotion during the game to get them fired up... Martin is a good guy and a decent coach but I just don't see him ever taking this team back to the heights Pearl had it. They will be average, but we all know that this program can do better than that.

born2ride writes:

#1 Seed in the NIT

We had to beat Bama to get in the tourney.

Disappointing.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to govols26:

Said it before and I'll say it again, this team only plays well when they are winning. As soon as the other team makes a run or our players start off with cold shooting, they just seem to quit and there is no leadership- no one that wants to take the ball and get a bucket when one is needed badly. That and their coach shows zero emotion during the game to get them fired up... Martin is a good guy and a decent coach but I just don't see him ever taking this team back to the heights Pearl had it. They will be average, but we all know that this program can do better than that.

No emotion = bad coach ? Don't remember John Wooden ranting an raving.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

And the slogan from Krystal's: "Grab a Sack" has taken a new meaning.

ROTFLMAO !!!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

At least they will be fresh for the NIT. This is the most talent in the SEC with the worst coaching. How long do we put up with this mediocre system?

Aw, geez, dry it up. MOst talent and worst coaching? That would be Ky-Jelly...they dang near sweep the SEC awards, and are a bubble team this year. No one's done less with more than Teflon John.

VOLKING writes:

Wow. This was the game that could have put them in and they played with no emotion or heart. Big time players make big plays in big games. We had none on the court today. When things go bad, we have no one to turn to. No leadership on this team. NIT, one and done. Just like last year. There's always football season...oh wait....nevermind.

jt45 writes:

Not likely to get in the tournament after this loss, it really just gives the committee an excuse for what they were probably going to do anyway, maybe someday we will have some guards that dont look like they are stuck in concrete on defense against the dribble drive. They just are not ready yet and it was really disappointing to see them tossing up bricks and missing layups again today. There are 2 versions of this team and the wrong one showed up for this tournament.

easttnvol21 writes:

Well, that wasn't a very impressive outing. But, let's be realistic. We are a better than average team and that's basically where we are. McRae just had an off game. Stokes does what he can considering he gets hammered in the lane (plus, bless his heart, he simply can't shoot free throws). Golden plays hard but is marginal. Can't defend against quick guards and is unable to penetrate the zone. We really can't handle the ball and struggled to run any semblance of an offense. And, on and on. But, hopefully they get in anyway. They are capable of winning a couple games. We'll see.

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