Second-half rally leads Vols past USC Upstate, 74-65

Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes gets to the basket against USC Upstate during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes gets to the basket against USC Upstate during the first half at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

The Tennessee men’s basketball team’s second attempt at a second-half comeback proved more fruitful than its first, and the Vols beat USC Upstate 74-65 in their home opener at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday night.

UT (1-1) put together a 20-4 run after halftime to overcome a Spartan team that led by as many as 13. The comeback kept UT from starting 0-2 for the first time since losses to Michigan and Vanderbilt under former coach Ray Mears in the 1965-66 season.

Senior point guard Jordan McRae led the Vols with 18 points. Forwards Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon both contributed double-doubles. Stokes had 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Maymon had 15 points, 11 boards.

USC Upstate senior forward Torrey Craig scored 20 points for the Spartans. Bearden High School alum Ty Greene scored 15.

The Vols seemed to sidestep the slow start that doomed them in their season-opening loss to Xavier. They took a 5-0 lead thanks to an Antonio Barton 3-pointer. Even Stokes, who scored only four points before fouling out against the Musketeers, found traction early with an easy lay up.

But USC Upstate answered and took a 42-35 lead to halftime.

Stokes wore the Spartans down in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty (he made five of 17 shots from the field), but he was solid from the free-throw line (7-of-8).

UT plays The Citadel on Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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Comments » 6

johnlg00 writes:

Now that was a little better. USC-U was a worthy opponent that was just on fire in the first half. Stokes and Maymon had 32 points and 29 rebounds between them. The Vols will win most games in which they perform that well. We also saw how willing Barton was both to keep the ball moving and take the big shot himself when necessary. McRae probably realizes now that, with the new rules, nobody can keep him out of the lane. Now the Vols just have to realize that they can do what they did tonight against darned near anybody. They just need to do what they do well and stay away from the things they don't do well. This game should a useful contrast with the first half against Xavier for teaching purposes. They will be fine.

wigmeister writes:

USC-U was on fire due to some sloppy play. Second half was better. I hope they will be fine, but they go through periods where they just look out of sync. It is still very early in the season. Hopefully they will continue to improve.

VictorKrugerII writes:

The Vols played some really passive defense in the first half - it was as if the entire team was afraid of getting into foul trouble. Once they stepped up the aggression after halftime, they started to play well. Those early substitutions that put the freshman into the game really hurt the Vols defensively, so hopefully CCM will rotate players in a bit differently next time. I hope Reese and Edwards get off the bench these next couple of games!

oldster writes:

This is the type of team against whom all Vols men's teams need to compete. UT is no longer capable of competing at an SEC level in any of the major sports. Moving to the Sunbelt, the league this team is in, or some other small time league, like the Big 10 is where my 3 time alma mater now belongs.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to oldster:

This is the type of team against whom all Vols men's teams need to compete. UT is no longer capable of competing at an SEC level in any of the major sports. Moving to the Sunbelt, the league this team is in, or some other small time league, like the Big 10 is where my 3 time alma mater now belongs.

You may be particularly interested to know that Michigan State had only a TWO-POINT lead last night with four minutes to go over Columbia of the Ivy League on the Spartans' home court before winning by nine. The Spartans would probably be favored to win the Ivy League by a pretty comfortable margin, don't you think?

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

You may be particularly interested to know that Michigan State had only a TWO-POINT lead last night with four minutes to go over Columbia of the Ivy League on the Spartans' home court before winning by nine. The Spartans would probably be favored to win the Ivy League by a pretty comfortable margin, don't you think?

SO many talented athletes today in all sports..sign of the times..basketball upsets are more common due the number of players it takes to be competitive..I think my expectations for the Vols this season are proving to be more than their talent is likely to deliver..don't see them making the big show and am lowering my expectations..the game last night was a real eye opener for me..the big fat freshman clearly outplayed Maymon and Stokes until it appeared he got tired..Greene was better than any shooter on the roster..and the athletic types Martin has recruited ..Moore and Richardson especially..simply have not developed enough offensive skills to compete in the SEC..the one bench guy (Edwards) I see who has enough offensive skills to help the offense seldom gets on the floor

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