BATON ROUGE, LA. A Tennessee men’s basketball team that won one of its first five SEC games last season matched that total in its first taste of league play on Tuesday.
UT (10-4) beat LSU (9-4) 68-50 at the Maravich Center, a victory that also served as the Vols’ first true road win of the season.
Led by sharp shooting from senior guards Antonio Barton and Jordan McRae, along with a strong inside performance from Jarnell Stokes, UT led 38-24 at halftime. That 14-point advantage was the largest first-half lead UT has had on the road since it led South Carolina 40-23 on March 3, 2011. LSU’s 24 points were the fewest it has scored in a first half this season.
Stokes, who turned 20 on Tuesday, was dominant. He finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds. McRae, who was named SEC player of the week for the second time this season on Monday, was incredibly efficient. He scored 19 on 6-of-7 shooting and dished out five assists. And Barton, who continues to put distance between himself and a cold streak that was in jeopardy of costing him his starting position, finished with 14 points.
The game featured four of the SEC’s top-10 rebounders: No. 2 Stokes (9.2), No. 4 Jeronne Maymon (8.2), No. 7 Jordan Mickey (7.8) and No. 10 Johnny O’Bryant (7.5). UT outrebounded LSU 40-28 and limited LSU’s star O’Bryant to 11 points and seven rebounds. Mickey had 14 points and four rebounds
Key UT freshmen reserves Robert Hubbs and A.J. Davis did not play. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin previously said Hubbs, who sat out of the Vols’ last game to rest a nagging shoulder injury, was cleared to play. Yet he and Davis never removed their shooting shirts.
Instead, the Vols leaned on sophomore forward Derek Reese and senior guard D’Montre Edwards off the bench, who both made strong pushes to end the non-conference season.