Vols’ offensive effort now matching defense
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:00 pm
By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Volunteers have had the hang of coach Cuonzo Martin’s tough defensive style for a while. Now they’re starting to get into the swing of his motion offense, too.
Jordan McRae came off the bench to score 14 points, and five other Vols logged double-digit scoring as Tennessee beat Arkansas 77-58 on Wednesday night.
“The past three or four games, we’ve done a good job running the motion offense,” Martin said. “That’s a credit to our guys moving and getting open against the zone defense. When you make that pass, good things happen. We penetrated and found the shooter.”
Trae Golden scored 13 points, Jeronne Maymon and Skylar McBee each had 12 points, Cameron Tatum added 11 points and Jarnell Stokes had 10 as the Volunteers shot 56 percent (28 of 50) while holding the Razorbacks to 42.9 percent shooting (24 of 56).
Tennessee (14-12, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) did its damage early in the game, then turned to its defense to overcome some sloppy possessions late in the first half and early in the second. The Vols, who have won 10 of their last 11 at home, hit nine of their first 10 shots, led by as many as 24 points in the first half and held a 47-30 halftime lead.
“We’re getting a vibe for each other. We’re getting a good chemistry for each other,” Tatum said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better and playing for each other.”
With Arkansas leading 6-4, Tatum hit a jumper that launched a 19-0 run for Tennessee. Tatum, who has struggled through a shooting slump lately and didn’t even attempt a shot in the Vols’ 75-70 win at Florida on Saturday, followed that basket with a 3-pointer.
McRae sank a 3 of his own to put the Vols up 21-6 with 13:55 until halftime, and Tennessee finished the half 7 of 10 from the perimeter against the SEC’s second-toughest 3-point defense. Arkansas limits its opponents to 29.3 percent shooting from the arc.
Arkansas (17-9, 5-6) capitalized on missed shots by Tennessee to go on a 7-0 run immediately before halftime.
The Hogs took advantage of turnovers by the Vols early in the second half during another 7-0 run to pull within 14 points.
“We dug a hole,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “Obviously, Tennessee had some easy opportunities. They shot the ball well, too. They made some shots — got to give them credit. They came out and they established, throwing the first punch. I thought in the second half we responded a lot more positively.”
Brandon Mitchell hit a layup for the Razorbacks with 8:22 to play that cut Tennessee’s lead to 60-50, but it was as close as the Hogs would get. McBee answered with one of his four 3s of the game to spark Tennessee’s energy again.
BJ Young scored 18 points, and Hunter Mickelson scored 12 for Arkansas, which hasn’t won a road game this season.
“We had all the momentum going into the second half,” Mickelson said. “When we did cut it down, we had everything going for us. Things happen. It’s their home floor. They are going to get some breaks and stuff like that. McBee got that 3-pointer, and that definitely takes it away from you.”
Arkansas and Tennessee entered the game in a three-way tie with Mississippi for fifth place in the SEC. With their fourth win in a row, the Vols moved into a tie with Mississippi State for fourth while the Hogs dropped to a three-way tie for seventh.
Before the game, Tennessee announced that Martin had suspended forward Kenny Hall indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.
Hall, who averages 6.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and a block, hadn’t missed a game this season and started 16 of them, including the last two.
Stokes returned to the starting lineup in Hall’s place. Stokes sat out against South Carolina on Feb. 8 and came off the bench against Florida on Saturday after suffering a minor injury to his wrist.
Martin said there was no timetable for Hall’s return, but added that the junior would not practice in the coming days or travel with Tennessee to Alabama on Saturday.
“You’ve got to do the right things on and off the court,” Martin said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Published in The Messenger 2.16.12