Golden, Stokes lead UT romp over Grizzlies on series’ third try
By David Cobb | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tennessee learned its lesson about Oakland University.
In 2010 and 2011 losses to the Summit League school, the Vols allowed 89 points both games.
The third time was a charm Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols limited Oakland to 29 percent shooting in a 77-50 victory that was never in doubt as UT played its first game since returning from a three-game trip to Puerto Rico.
“Both times we played them previously, they had a couple of players that ended up with like 30 points,” senior forward Kenny Hall said. “So we went in with that chip on our shoulders and realized what they were capable of doing.
“We just locked in and stayed focused.”
That focus was evidenced by UT’s first-half defensive effort. The Vols took a 38-15 halftime lead, a mark which was a record breaker for the Vols under coach Cuonzo Martin. UT had never led by more at the break against any team in its previous 39 games with Martin at the helm.
“I thought it was great,” Martin said of his team’s defensive effort. “I thought our guys did well on both ends of the floor. It was hard to find anything wrong outside of them getting some offensive rebounds in the first half.”
Jarnell Stokes and Trae Golden paced the scoring for UT with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
After the Grizzlies cut the UT lead to 53-34 midway through the second half, the duo scored seven of their team’s next nine points capped by a Stokes dunk via one of Golden’s seven assists.
Golden agreed with Hall’s assessment that the Vols played with something to prove.
“Most definitely,” Golden said. “We didn’t want to lose again and we just feel like if we play for each other we’ll be a great team and that’s we try and do.”
For good measure, Skylar McBee, Josh Richardson, and Quinton Chievous each contributed 3-pointers down the stretch to ensure that the nails stayed in Oakland’s coffin.
Stokes’ interior superiority was complimented by Kenny Hall’s nine points and 11 rebounds as UT outscored the Grizzlies 42-22 in the paint and outrebounded them 42-29.
“Good win for our guys to hold a team like that, the way they score the ball to 50 points,” Martin said. “Probably one of our better efforts overall since I’ve been here, top to bottom.”
Tennessee (4-1) returns to action Friday at Georgetown (4-1) in a nationally televised contest (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
The Hoyas’ only loss came against No. 1 Indiana in overtime last week.
“We’re ready to play anybody,” Martin said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing them. They’re a very talented team, they run the Princeton offense and they have four starters 6-foot-7 or taller. That’s what you play for.”