UTEP knocks off cold-shooting Vols, 78-70

UTEP's Mckenzie Moore, center, attempts a 3-point shot against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. 

(AP Photo/Bahamas Visual Services, Dante Carrer)

UTEP's Mckenzie Moore, center, attempts a 3-point shot against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Bahamas Visual Services, Dante Carrer)

Cuonzo Martin, on the Vols' loss to UTEP

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - Before the flight left, Jordan McRae said he would love another shot at Xavier, the only team to beat the Tennessee men’s basketball team this season.

The rematch wasn’t supposed to come this way, though.

Thanks to cold shooting and lackluster defense, the Vols lost to UTEP 78-70 in their first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at Imperial Arena on Thursday night. They will move to the losers' side of the bracket and play Xavier, who lost Thursday to No. 23 Iowa 77-74, at 1 p.m.

“Tough loss,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin. “Give UTEP credit. They played well. They competed start from finish.”

UT (3-2) entered the game with what appeared to be the most favorable opponent in the field. The Miners were the only team in the tournament that had two losses on their record. But UT’s offense sparked much too late, and defensive mastermind and UTEP coach Tim Floyd dug into his back of tricks to delay it as long as he could.

UTEP's Tim Floyd on shutting down Tennessee

“Not today,” a very vocal UTEP fan said again and again as the Vols’ shots clanked off the rim. And she was right.

UTEP led by as much as 15, then found ways to punch back when UT made things interesting toward the end by switching to a full-court press UTEP struggled to break.

Jordan McRae led the Vols with 22 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Jarnell Stokes had 13 points and 13 rebounds. The team shot 34.9 percent from the field, 15 percent from deep and 59 percent from the free-throw line. They also turned the ball over an unusually-high 15 times.

At times the Miners crowded the paint and forced UT's shooters to miss from deep. At times the Vols’ best threats from the field, McRae and fellow senior guard Antonio Barton, faced a defender who stayed on their hip, even if the ball was on the other side of the ballroom turned basketball gym.

“It was tough,” McRae said. “But I think I could have done a better job getting other guys open and things like that.”

UTEP also started cold before finding the stoke UT never stumbled upon. McKenzie Moore, who returned to action after missing UTEP's last game due to a concussion, scored a team-high 19 points. John Bohannon outperformed UT forwards Stokes and Jeronne Maymon inside and finished with 18. The Miners made 58 percent of their shots.

“They attacked the rim,” Martin said. “They made shots. I didn’t think we were very aggressive in taking away passing lanes. We didn’t do a very good job off the dribble against those guys. Across the board we didn’t play well defensively.”

Martin said after the game he might have switched to the press earlier if given a second chance.

“We spent a lot of time with it in practice,” he said. “That’s something we do. It gave us good momentum. But again, we just didn’t capitalize on some errors. We just came up short."

UT entered the game knowing who it would play Friday, win or lose. Huddled around a tiny TV monitor in a resort lobby, they watched Iowa (6-0) storm back from a 15-point deficit in the second half to beat Xavier (5-1) in overtime.

Despite its heartbreaking loss the Xavier team UT faces Friday could be stronger than the one that beat it 67-63 in Cincinnati on Nov. 12. Musketeers' forward Justin Martin, who sat out of Tennessee’s previous game against Xavier due to a concussion, started and scored 15 points against Iowa.

Seemingly the Vols will also be in a better position also. Barton came off the bench due to lingering foot and knee pain in that game. And Stokes was extremely ineffective, fouling out with four points and four rebounds.

Now the Vols and Musketeers will play again, for a reason neither team very much likes.

“I wouldn’t exactly say we want payback," Josh Richardson said. “But I know we’ve got to worry about what we’re doing. We’ve got to be ready to play tomorrow. We can’t let this loss hang on our minds and affect our play.”

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Comments » 40

agohn#216569 writes:

Bruce Pearl was fired for this phooey? Thanks a lot Mike Hamilton!! Maybe Hitman Hart will hire a real coach instead of an unproven one from SW Missouri State or La Tech. I don't know about the rest of Vol Nation, but I'm quite tired of Tennessee being a doormat. Losing to F'n UTEP???? Ridiculous and should never happen.

manoffewwords writes:

I'm quite tired also. In fact I'm worn out.
Lady Vols only bright spot right now.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Another slow start with Martin....it has become a annual event.

rjackcam#370380 writes:

How long do we have to say "Wait 'til next year" ?

volnsc writes:

I envisioned this team being special this year but I have never been a visionary. I'm not underselling UTEP, but the Vols never seem quite prepared for teams, fall behind, then scramble to play catch up. I was all for CCM but am having some serious doubts now. The songs remains the same.

tntuba#225866 writes:

I hated this hire when we made it and I'm sick and tired of the local "sports media" telling me I need to like him.

I can't believe we fired a coach who had taken us to the tournament 6 years in a row, got us to our first #1 National Ranking, took us to the elite 8 for the first time in history....to hire a guy who has NEVER coached a game more meaningful than the second round of the NIT(Don't throw up his CIT win)!!! The team played with the same amount of energy, heart and effort that CCM displayed from the bench, which is little to none.

The University of Tennessee is NOT a second class University nor should it have a second class athletic department...but it does.

I'm over Jimmy Cheek, I'm over David Heart, I'm over "Coach" Martin and I'm over losing.

Plasticman85 writes:

If Hart has any backbone, he will man up and hire Pearl after this disastrous season is over. I've never seen more wasted talent on the court at one time. Two First team All-SEC players ( Stokes and McRae) as well as Both are Wooden Award nominees and this team struggles to score points? Cuonzo is the only person that can hold McRae under 20 points!

ChesterDrawers writes:

I hate piling on, but I too am weary of great expectations and preseason buildup only to witness mediocre, lackluster play and losing. This is year three of Martin's tenure and I see no improvement. In fact, it appears that players regress rather than develop and improve from the day they arrive.

slov writes:

Boring and ineffective. Our one-two punch.

atnvol#283282 writes:

I guess they will come skulking home carrying their tales after it gets handed to them again by Xavier this afternoon....Xavier lost a close game it led to the very end. Martin just does not seem to figure out how to get his teams to play together....and everyone of his teams cannot CONSISTENTLY make outside shots. They always play their best ball at the end of the season trying to scramble back into contention for the NCAA only to fall short and totally fall on their tales in the losers tournament. I know BP will not be hired back.....but I still miss him....I wish he had used better judgement.

ColPhorbin writes:

This basketball program has the look and feel of a Dooley led program with each passing game. Our bigs look way to heavy, no ups... and why in the world does Maymon look like a defensive lineman? - carrying that extra weight on his knee makes no sense...just a bunch of lumbering, awkward misfits out there. Counzos cluelessness has reached epic proportions. They have no flow, no rhythm, no offense. Are they trying to lull everyone to sleep before they shoot? It's like they're running plays that worked in practice but failed to account for the fact that teams bring defenses to counter. Seriously, get that loser of a coach and his absurd Gene Keady, dated, overrated school of play out of here. What a complete waste. Come on Hart... you played the game, this must sicken you. Get rid of Cuonzo, he's horrible.

ColPhorbin writes:

And another thing... He really is horrible

Dickattrade writes:

I must agree with all the above comments. CCM is a good guy I guess but these young men have loads of talent and are grossly under coached.
I really thought this could be the year we got back in the mix of the NCAA.

ColPhorbin writes:

and another thing... this team looks lost... and another thing, this team cannot shoot. They look like a special needs program... they whiff on gimme shots with such aplomb and skill it's almost dazzling to behold. Here Stokes, gimme from one foot out, air ball, here Maymon, alley oop... forget about it... down he comes with ball in hand, dribble dribble, head fake, back up... nothing but blanks

JSmith525 writes:

Worse "Coached" team in the history of UT basketball. Martin stated that UTEP "Came ready to play". To bad he couldn't say the same about his own team.

brokebackvol writes:

I'd also vote to hire Pearl back. Martin ain't the coach we need to get the VOLS back to the NCAA.

IndianOutlaw writes:

Sad, really sad. What more can you say.

Stinkdog writes:

Gotta agree...UT has pretty good talent and should be playing better than they are. They seem to put forth the effort, but appear unprepared and a little disoriented when playing a better-than-average opponent. I've been a Coach Martin supporter since he came to town, but I am starting to feel that UT has a significant coaching issue. Hope I'm wrong and they start to show improvement.

willphill#241787 writes:

Bruce has served his penalty. There is no shame in bringing him back.

OrangePride writes:

I hate to say it because I bleed Orange, but Tennessee is about the most boring and lackluster basketball team I have seen. Atrocious shooting from both the floor and foul line is almost common place. THIS was supposed to be our most talented team....well if that's the case then we need to look elsewhere for the problem. We get out coached time and again by mid-major schools with no business being in the game past half time. And BTW, the 41st best recruiting class is pitiful. How sad it is, Tennessee sports these days. Thank goodness for the women.

Volsreign1 writes:

in response to agohn#216569:

Bruce Pearl was fired for this phooey? Thanks a lot Mike Hamilton!! Maybe Hitman Hart will hire a real coach instead of an unproven one from SW Missouri State or La Tech. I don't know about the rest of Vol Nation, but I'm quite tired of Tennessee being a doormat. Losing to F'n UTEP???? Ridiculous and should never happen.

As I have commented before, Mike Hamilton, regardless of the many mistakes he made with other decisions, did not have a choice in firing Pearl. Pearl was given a show cause penalty, which is defined as follows:

"In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a show-cause penalty is an order saying that for a set period of time, any NCAA penalties imposed on a coach involved in major rules violations at a university's athletic program will remain in force if he is hired by any other NCAA member institution. Both the school and coach are required to send letters to the NCAA agreeing to abide by any restrictions imposed, and report back to the NCAA every 6 months until the end of employment or the show-cause, whichever comes first. If the school wishes to avoid the NCAA restrictions imposed on that individual, it must appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions and "show cause" as to why it should not be penalized for hiring him.[1] The penalty is intended to follow a coach for violations that he had a role in committing. It is the most severe penalty that can be handed down to a coach.

Contrary to popular belief, an NCAA member school is allowed to hire a coach with a show-cause order outstanding. In practice, however, the show-cause restrictions make it prohibitively difficult for a coach with a show-cause order to get another collegiate job. As mentioned above, any school that hires a coach with a show-cause order in effect can be penalized merely for doing so. Additionally, that school can face severe penalties if a coach commits another violation during the length of the penalty.[2] Consequently, most schools will not even consider hiring a coach with a show-cause penalty in effect. For this reason, a show-cause penalty usually has the effect of blackballing a coach from the collegiate ranks for the duration of the penalty. Many coaches who are given such a penalty never coach again, even after the expiration of the penalty."

There is a reason no university has ever kept a coach who has been assessed this penalty, so all you guys who still want to pile on Hamilton and UT for firing Pearl need to redirect that ire to the NCAA for the unbelievably harsh penalty (See Frank Haith). Also if I'm not mistaken, the penalty goes thru August of next year and any new coach will need to be hired in April. I may be wrong about this but if it's true I wonder if Pearl might try to appeal and get the penalty to end sooner. Of course, if UT doesn't have the guts to consider hiring him, I guess Memphis will. And it's still possible this could be a good season, but it sure didn't look like it last night.

wigmeister writes:

Always hated the Purdue system. Ineffectual more often than not. We seem to have decent players, but I believe the coaching is, from a teaching standpoint, not up to par. The Lady Vols are or only legitimate hope. BTW, is the conditioning coach on vacation?

rocket22 writes:

BRUCE...BRUCE...BRUCE...PLEASE!

OrangePride writes:

in response to Volsreign1:

As I have commented before, Mike Hamilton, regardless of the many mistakes he made with other decisions, did not have a choice in firing Pearl. Pearl was given a show cause penalty, which is defined as follows:

"In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a show-cause penalty is an order saying that for a set period of time, any NCAA penalties imposed on a coach involved in major rules violations at a university's athletic program will remain in force if he is hired by any other NCAA member institution. Both the school and coach are required to send letters to the NCAA agreeing to abide by any restrictions imposed, and report back to the NCAA every 6 months until the end of employment or the show-cause, whichever comes first. If the school wishes to avoid the NCAA restrictions imposed on that individual, it must appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions and "show cause" as to why it should not be penalized for hiring him.[1] The penalty is intended to follow a coach for violations that he had a role in committing. It is the most severe penalty that can be handed down to a coach.

Contrary to popular belief, an NCAA member school is allowed to hire a coach with a show-cause order outstanding. In practice, however, the show-cause restrictions make it prohibitively difficult for a coach with a show-cause order to get another collegiate job. As mentioned above, any school that hires a coach with a show-cause order in effect can be penalized merely for doing so. Additionally, that school can face severe penalties if a coach commits another violation during the length of the penalty.[2] Consequently, most schools will not even consider hiring a coach with a show-cause penalty in effect. For this reason, a show-cause penalty usually has the effect of blackballing a coach from the collegiate ranks for the duration of the penalty. Many coaches who are given such a penalty never coach again, even after the expiration of the penalty."

There is a reason no university has ever kept a coach who has been assessed this penalty, so all you guys who still want to pile on Hamilton and UT for firing Pearl need to redirect that ire to the NCAA for the unbelievably harsh penalty (See Frank Haith). Also if I'm not mistaken, the penalty goes thru August of next year and any new coach will need to be hired in April. I may be wrong about this but if it's true I wonder if Pearl might try to appeal and get the penalty to end sooner. Of course, if UT doesn't have the guts to consider hiring him, I guess Memphis will. And it's still possible this could be a good season, but it sure didn't look like it last night.

Of course, you are absolutely right about all of that. I believe what you are hearing, though, is the frustration and outright disenchantment with the state of Tennessee basketball AND the fact that Pearl had it going in the right direction. Can or would Hart consider hiring him back is a more interesting question, there are arguments on both sides. We have no choice but to see how this season ultimately turns out before we even get to serious consideration of a coaching change, but it will be a constant topic from now til August. In the meantime, I think there is quite a bit of talent on this team, so if it ever comes together, things could change.

ColPhorbin writes:

and another thing... you Bruce pundits sicken me too...as though he's the only answer... there are 20 HS coaches in the area that look like John Wooden compared to this current batch of cuonzo losers

ThirdCreek writes:

But UTEP is no patsy team. They are frequently in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments. UTEP is coached by former NBA head coach Tim Floyd who has a lot more experience than Martin.

Firing Pearl-especially the way it was handled right after the MI loss in the NCAA tournament-was a big mistake. I think Martin was a panic hire like Derek Dooley was when other candidates turned down UT before Dooley accepted.

Either way, let's give Martin the benefit of the doubt.

bobscleo#330846 writes:

This team could not throw it in the ocean from the floor or the free throw line.
They could not play dead in a cowboy picture

underthehill writes:

Martin appears to have great character and an impressive resume'..but if you look at what coach Byrd has done at Belmont and Davis has done at Mid Tenn..I have to think either would have done a better job at UT than Martin has done..I don't see any evidence of coaching players up...I hope I am as wrong as wrong can be..but it looks like a long year..unless the young talented freshmen come to the rescue..

WaitUntilNextYear writes:

For all you delusional people begging for Bruce, get a life.
When you replace the Head Coach, Board of Trustees, Athletic Board, President of the University System, Chancellor of UTK and the Athletic Director, you can get Bruce back.
Maybe he goes to Memphis some day.
Tennessee Vols, never again, mark it down.

bobscleo#330846 writes:

in response to ThirdCreek:

But UTEP is no patsy team. They are frequently in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments. UTEP is coached by former NBA head coach Tim Floyd who has a lot more experience than Martin.

Firing Pearl-especially the way it was handled right after the MI loss in the NCAA tournament-was a big mistake. I think Martin was a panic hire like Derek Dooley was when other candidates turned down UT before Dooley accepted.

Either way, let's give Martin the benefit of the doubt.

Hamilton worst hire in history !

manoffewwords writes:

One thing that will never change : Martin is BORING . I would kiss and make up with Bruce and MOST Vol fans would be thrilled out of their minds. If that can't happen get Byrd from Belmont, Floyd from UTEP , Wade from UTC,
Foster from UTC, or any number of coaches across America.

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

Free throw shooting is probably the biggest weakness at the present time. Could have beaten X with better free throw shooting and would have beaten UTEP with 70% or better shooting. I am 70 years old and can shoot 80% with symbols being banged in my ear. Stokes and Maymond must quit taking the dribble to set up their shot after an offensive rebound or a feed deep in the lane. Time is of the essence down there and they are giving the D time to adjust with the senseless dribbling. No room for it in most cases as defenders desend into the lane area. Don't know if this has been noticed by the coaching staff but there has been no change in either of these two guys over the past two-three years. I'll hold off on Martin for a little longer, but sometimes I see a little of the Wade Houston confusion or the Jerry Green confusion in his eyes. Get a technical every now and then.

ColPhorbin writes:

in response to 1volk-nowi-tall:

Free throw shooting is probably the biggest weakness at the present time. Could have beaten X with better free throw shooting and would have beaten UTEP with 70% or better shooting. I am 70 years old and can shoot 80% with symbols being banged in my ear. Stokes and Maymond must quit taking the dribble to set up their shot after an offensive rebound or a feed deep in the lane. Time is of the essence down there and they are giving the D time to adjust with the senseless dribbling. No room for it in most cases as defenders desend into the lane area. Don't know if this has been noticed by the coaching staff but there has been no change in either of these two guys over the past two-three years. I'll hold off on Martin for a little longer, but sometimes I see a little of the Wade Houston confusion or the Jerry Green confusion in his eyes. Get a technical every now and then.

1volk... I think you're being too kind...this whole organization is completely confused... and all Cantzone can do his mumble along year after year as though he's leading some kind of buddhist monastary or philosophical system that requires meditation, patience and insight to fully understand... What fans neeed to do his boycott now...that's the quickest way to put this oblivious fool out of OUR misery... I can't stand baseball, but next will be hearing from fans talking that up... and YOU people out there thinking there's a silver lining in womens basketball. Really, womens basketball!? That's hat we're reduced to. UT Sports absolutely is beyond belief... we get so little out of so much. Has to be the most underachieving sports program in the nation. I doubt it's close... I wonder how much money goes into each win...must be in the millions since we win so little.

manoffewwords writes:

I read on here that some are saying this situation is bad and needs to be fixed quick.
Please tell me how it can be fixed quick?

ColPhorbin writes:

This whole organization is completely confused... and all Cantzone Martin can do is mumble along year after year as though he's leading some kind of buddhist monastary or philosophical system that requires meditation, patience and insight to fully understand... What fans neeed to do is boycott now...that's the quickest way to put this oblivious fool out of OUR misery... I can't stand baseball, but next will be hearing from fans talking that up... and YOU people out there thinking there's a silver lining in womens basketball. Really, womens basketball!? That's what we're reduced to. UT Sports absolutely is beyond belief... we get so little out of so much. Has to be the most underachieving sports program in the nation. I doubt it's close... I wonder how much money goes into each win...must be in the millions since we win so little.

slb1zellwood#1421797 writes:

How could one disagree with what you fellas are saying. We have so many big time coaching and player discipline problems it is pathetic. It appears when you watch these guys play that there is no structured offensive plan other than run down the court and fire at will. The big guys when they have the ball inside remind me of what Roger Miller said in his song about not being able to roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd. It would appear Shaq and Dwight Howard coach the guys on foul shot shooting. It is comical to watch the big guys shoot fouls. I turned off the game at halftime it was so damn bad I couldn't watch it anymore. Hope things get better but I don't think they will under the current regime.

Ichabod writes:

It's bad. Really bad, and getting worse.
Sure hope the football Vols win tomorrow night in front of 30k in Lexington. THEN , we will really have 'something to hang our hats on'.
Absolutely pathetic.

robert#1417579 writes:

No question, Tennessee is a bad basketball team. They can't score, don't box out, only play defense about 40% of the time, horrible free throw shooting team. They have lost two games to teams they have more talent than, yet they were really never in either game. Between football and basketball it's not "Great To Be A Tennessee Vol" right now. I hope better days are ahead, but it's hard to imagine either sport being good within the next 3 or 4 years.

robert#1417579 writes:

It was mentioned how bad the big guys are at shooting free throws. Shoot, McRae and the other guards have missed a bunch this year, including yesterday. The guards can't shoot them either. At least not when it matters, like in a "real" game.

Volborn writes:

Bring out the black curtains Dave Hart. UT will average 8-10 K with this garbage. Feed the post, get it packed, clank 2 free throws. Feed da pose, kick it out, clank a 3 ball. Great scheme! This team can't "score the ball" against a valid opponent. Good luck Cuonzo, but the only way this team qualifies for NCAA tourney is to win the SEC tourney. 1 in 5000 on that happening.

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