Let’s take a look at the biggest players, stats and quotes from Tennessee’s 67-48 loss win over Georgia on Tuesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena with The Postgame 2-4-7.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin speaks with veteran referee Tony Greene during the Vols' 67-48 win over Georgia on Tuesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena. The win put UT back in fourth place in the SEC standings. (News Sentinel photo)
2 Game VIPs
Vols junior forward Jarnell Stokes
After amazingly going the final 17 minutes of Saturday’s loss at Missouri without attempting a single shot from the field, Stokes was a much more front-and-center option for the Vols on Tuesday, collecting a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting from the field in 35 minutes. Stokes also had three assists, three blocked shots (a big number for him) and one steal. He was, without any doubt whatsoever, the best player in Thompson-Boling on Tuesday night.
Vols senior point guard Antonio Barton
Welcome back, Barton. After missing his past eight attempts from 3-point range heading into Tuesday, Barton looked much more like the player who has shot at least 40 percent from behind the arc in every season of his college. He scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from long range, and he added three assists and a steal in his 24 solid minutes off the bench. He also played a big part in the Vols’ impressive defensive effort against big Georgia point guard Charles Mann.
That was Georgia’s shooting performance from the field in Tuesday’s second half. That’s an even 25 percent. That’s not good. But it was really good for Tennessee, which has shown an ability to absolutely clamp down on opponents from time to time — just not enough of the time, obviously.
That was the number of free throws Tennessee and Georgia attempted in this game. And that was huge for the Vols, because they entered this game making fewer free throws than Georgia had attempted in SEC play.
That was the rebounding total in this game, and Tennessee had the 37. And that was also huge for the Vols, because Georgia is a plucky team with decent length that had been beating up on SEC opponents on the glass. But the Bulldogs were clearly the second-best team in the paint in this game.
That was the announced attendance Tuesday night. And the actual attendance — which Tennessee doesn’t release — was much lower than that. Tuesday’s scene looked so much unlike the one seven days before against Florida that one had to assume it was adopted. This team still seems to believe in itself, but much of its fan base clearly doesn’t. That’s inarguable after Tuesday’s atmosphere.
Vols' Jarnell Stokes (KNS photo)
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin’s opening statement: “I’d like to thank the crowd for coming out. I thought they had great energy, especially for a late night game. I thought they did a great job. Good win for our guys. I thought we did a solid job executing on both ends of the floor, because there were two things going into this game that we wanted to try and take away from those guys. (The first) was their ability to get to the free-throw line, because 33 percent of their offensive production comes from that free-throw line. Then we wanted to keep those guys off the offensive glass. I thought we did a good job of carrying out that scouting report and getting a victory. That was a hard-fought, physical game. I thought Jarnell did a great job really posting up strong, being aggressive, looking for the ball and making plays.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox’s opening statement: “I don't want to take anything away from Tennessee — they really out-physicaled us — but that's not how we've been playing. They wore us out in the backcourt. I can't remember the last time we got out-rebounded. It's been awhile. I don't think we've been out-rebounded in the SEC yet, but we did tonight. You have to give them credit for it. Stokes had a monster game, and we tried a number of different things, sent different people at him, but he really just overpowered us. I was very disappointed (that) he dribbled around our double team. I was very concerned coming in that we were a little sluggish, but Tennessee wore us out. But we can't use that as an excuse. He's beating two guys, that's a credit to him.”
Tennessee junior guard Josh Richardson on Stokes’ performance against the Bulldogs: “Dominating. That’s all I have to say. He was posting up strong today. He was giving us a nice target, and we were getting him the ball. I wouldn’t say we were trying to get him the ball (more than usual), but after he scored eight straight points, why not?”
Tennessee senior point guard Antonio Barton on ending his shooting slump Tuesday night: “I never lost confidence, and I never stopped putting in the work every day. I knew I was gonna start making them again at some point. Good things happen when you keep putting in the work.”
Tennessee junior forward Jarnell Stokes on demanding the ball more during Tuesday’s game: “I’m definitely unselfish, because I look around the locker room and I know we have a lot talent. We have a lot of guys that can make plays, so it’s tough for me to sit here and tell this guy, I’m better than you,’ and demand the ball. But I feel like we have more fluidity in the offense when I get the ball. I’m not looking to score on three or four guys. If there’s a double, I’m most likely gonna pass it to the open man. I think that’s what you have to do to be a playmaker."
Georgia sophomore guard Kenny Gaines on Stokes’ performance: “He was beasting all around, defensively and offensively. He may not have been blocking (many) shots, but he was altering them. He’s a really strong guy.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin on the Vols’ defense against Georgia: “I like to think that at some point we’re gonna be a great defensive team, but we’re not there yet. It’s just the consistency of it, trusting in the scouting report and keeping those guys out of the lane. With the new rules, it’s hard when you have three or four guys that you’re defending that are so good at attacking the rim. It’s not an easy thing to defend. But I thought our guys did a good job protecting the paint.”
The Next One
Tennessee (16-10, 7-6 SEC) heads on the road Saturday for a 3 p.m. EST game at Texas A&M (14-11, 5-7) that will be broadcast by ESPNU.
Georgia (14-11, 8-5), which is still one game ahead of Tennessee for third place in the league, will stay on the road and play Saturday at South Carolina (10-15, 3-9) in a 1:30 p.m. EST game that will be broadcast by ESPN.
Contact Wes Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247