Let’s take a look at the biggest players, stats and quotes from Tennessee’s 67-58 loss to third-ranked Florida on Tuesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena with The Postgame 2-4-7.
Tennessee junior forward Jarnell Stokes (News Sentinel photo)
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Vols junior forward Jarnell Stokes
A lot of things didn’t go Tennessee’s way Tuesday night, but Stokes was again one of the best players on the floor — which he should be every night, because he’s that good. Stokes had another double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 7-of-11 from the field. He also had two assists and zero turnovers.
Vols senior guard Jordan McRae
Tuesday shaped up to be a major Orange Mamba kind of night, and it didn’t turn out that way, but McRae still did his part. He scored 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and he added one assist, one steal and two blocked shots. He did have five turnovers, but he gets swarmed every time he touches the ball. And he shot 6-of-16, but the hesitancy of his teammates forces him to take tough shots with defenders all over him. He could have been better Tuesday night, but he wasn’t bad. He wasn’t the problem.
That was the number of turnovers Vols senior forward Jeronne Maymon had in this game. And it easily could have topped double digits, if not for a couple of saves from teammates. No one player ever loses a game, but Maymon — who, in fairness, made some big plays on the defensive end, collecting nine rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots — was especially bad on offense tonight. And his final turnover absolutely did turn the game in the final minutes.
That was Tennessee’s shooting percentage from the field in the first half and then the second half. The Vols made some tough looks in the first half, so perhaps the law of averages kicked in during the second half. Regardless, Florida’s defense remains the SEC’s most impressive by a wide margin. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better defense anywhere in college basketball.
That was the rebounding totals in this game. And the Gators had the 39. Remember when Florida was super talented but rarely super tough? Those days are done, at least for now.
That was how Florida (77.3 percent) and Tennessee (52.9 percent) finished from the free-throw line in this game. When blood had to be spilled for every point from the field in the second half, free throws became a precious thing. And Florida converted. And Tennessee didn’t.
Vols' Josh Richardson (KNS photo)
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin’s opening statement: “That was a hard fought game, and one thing that we talked to our guys about, a couple things – defensively, who does the best job of defending and getting stops; offensively, who takes care of the ball the best? I thought we did a great job (against the full-court pressure). I don't think we had any turnovers, if I'm not mistaken, against the press, but we end up with 15 turnovers. I thought we had careless turnovers in the first half. You can't give that type of team leeway or room to make plays or get their heads up. I thought they did a great job keeping their composure and making their plays in a timely fashion. I thought Wilbekin really controlled the tempo down the stretch of the game. Give those guys credit. They did a great job winning the game.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan’s opening statement: “Being in the league as long as I have, Tennessee teams have always been really talented. I knew they were going to shoot the ball well. We wanted them to shoot the ball on our terms, so to speak. I thought McRae made two really tough shots. One was not defended well by us, but it was a tough shot by him. He made some tough runners. But I was really encouraged going into the half. We shot 36 percent from the field, they shot 62 percent and we were down by one. That's generally a recipe for being down 20 or 15, and you're in a real hole. We kind of dug ourselves out of a six-point deficit and cut it to one. I thought a lot of the shots they made in the first half, those shots didn't go down in the second half. I thought we made it a lot more difficult on McRae. Some of the shots he hit in the first half just didn't go down. The difference was what we did defensively, just the numbers there.”
Vols junior forward Jarnell Stokes on the game: “This reminds me a lot of the Kentucky game, because we defended them well, but they made us pay for what we gave them. Casey Prather hit a 3; his second one of the year. Chris Walker hit two 3s. Scottie Wilbekin was able to hit a 3 at the buzzer. They made some tough shots, and we didn't capitalize on transition. I think we got four turnovers in a row when we went zone. We just didn't capitalize on all of them.”
Vols senior Jordan McRae on Tennessee leading by just one point at halftime despite shooting nearly twice as well as Florida from the field: “We definitely should have (had a bigger lead). We can’t give up that basket at the end of the half. I mean, some of those shots they hit, we just can’t allow that to happen.”
Vols junior guard Josh Richardson on whether he thought he was fouled while missing a breakaway dunk chance: “I mean, I’m not gonna into details about the officials or anything. I just missed it.”
Florida senior center Patric Young on the Gators’ 39-32 rebounding edge on Tennessee: “We knew we had to bleed, scratch, and fight on the boards. Stokes and Maymon are the best in the League.”
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin on whether he thought about putting a turnover-prone Maymon on the bench: “I didn't think about taking him out. He was playing hard. He was diving on the floor. He did a tremendous job of battling and competing. There were several times he had the rebound, and he did a great job getting a jump. No, I didn't think about taking him out. It was just unfortunate. He played extremely hard. Maybe take him out to get him a blow, but he was the one guy I really thought was battling around the rim. Jarnell was doing a good job of scoring and getting rebounds, but I thought Jeronne was the one guy all over the floor and making plays.”
The Next One
Tennessee (15-9, 6-5 SEC) heads on the road Saturday for a tough, 4 p.m. EST game at Missouri (16-7, 4-6) that will be broadcast by ESPN2.
Florida (22-2, 11-0) stays on the road and continues its toughest week of the SEC season with a 9 p.m. EST game Saturday at Kentucky (18-5, 8-2) that will be broadcast by ESPN.
Contact Wes Rucker at email@example.com, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247
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