Let’s take a look at the biggest players, stats and quotes from Tennessee’s 81-74 win over Arkansas on Wednesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena with The Postgame 2-4-7.
Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin (News Sentinel photo)
2 Game VIPs
Vols senior guard Jordan McRae
McRae was, quite simply, the man down the stretch for Tennessee, scoring a game-high 34 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and 12-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line. He scored the Vols’ final 14 points, and Arkansas scored just six points during that stretch. And the Vols won by seven points. Do the math.
Vol senior forward Jeronne Maymon
Sure, Maymon, whose knees continue to be a problem, had to be taken out of the game a couple of times because he became a defensive liability against Arkansas’ quicker, smaller post players. But Maymon still scored 17 points, pulled down a game-high nine rebounds and was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. The good outweighed the bad.
That’s what Tennessee and Arkansas shot from the free-throw line in this game. The Vols have been justifiably ripped in the past for their poor free-throw shooting that led to losses. Well ... big-time shooting from the line helped them win this game. So ... there’s that. Credit where due.
That was the number of lead changes in Wednesday’s game. That’s a season-high for Tennessee, but not a high in the Martin Era. The Vols and South Carolina had 16 lead changes in Tennessee’s 66-61 win last season in Columbia.
That was the number of turnovers Tennessee’s Josh Richardson (5), Jarnell Stokes (4) and Jeronne Maymon (4) had in this game. That’s bad. Give all three players — especially Richardson — credit for making big plays down the stretch. But the rest of the Vols had just two turnovers. The rest of them took care of the ball. But those three didn’t, at least for large stretches of that game.
That was the number of shots Tennessee sophomore guard Armani Moore blocked in just 13 minutes in the first half. Moore is 6-foot-5. And one of his victims was 6-foot-10. That boy can leap. The Vols blocked 10 Arkansas shots. That was one short of a record in the Martin Era.
Vols' Jordan McRae (KNS photo)
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin’s opening statement: “Good win. I thought our guys did a really good job of fighting. We got off to a slow start. I'm not sure what the reason is, but we got off to a slow start. I thought our guys did a good job fighting, especially down the stretch in that last four minutes, just really battling and trying to get stops. They did a great job of attacking the rim, especially Coty Clarke with Jeronne on him, really attacking the rim and getting to the basket. I thought they took advantage of it and made plays, putting their heads down, and they had good spacing. They're just a real tough, feisty team — one of those teams where it got to the point where we didn't run any plays. It was more or less penetration, feed the post, freelance motion, because they take you out of a rhythm of what you're trying to do offensively. You just have to be able to make plays. Jordan McRae stepped up on offense. It's one of those games when you're in this kind of environment, so you kind of open up and just play. I thought we did a good job with that. Again, (Arkansas) is a team where they fight, they battle and make it hard on you. This was a good win for our guys to be able to rebound the way we did late in the game.”
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s opening statement: “I thought it became a free-throw shooting contest. Our kids fought. I thought our guys played like true Razorbacks. They were in position in the last three, four minutes, just didn't execute as we thought we should have. We didn't attack the basket, and we didn't get to the free throw line. On the other end, they got to the free throw line. I thought the MVP of the night was the, McRae played well, but the MVP was the flagrant foul call (on Arkansas’ Kikko Haydar). You get into two or three minutes (left), and that's one that should play on. I thought it just changed the whole dynamic of how the game was going. Our defense was really good, we were connected to one another. But give them credit, they didn't go away. Our guys played this game to win, there were some mishaps down the stretch where we attacked the basket, a couple of times we settled, but we were in position. They did a good job with their experienced guys. Look at their experienced guys, they were the guys that made plays for them.”
Vols senior forward Jeronne Maymon on Tennessee’s offense in the final minutes of Wednesday’s game: “Find Jordy.”
Vols senior guard Jordan McRae on his performance: “I just really wanted the ball at the end of the game. I knew with how they were guarding Jarnell, it would be hard for him to score, and Jeronne, as well. This is a game that we didn't want to lose at home, especially home games like this. We needed this win. ...I don’t care about my numbers. We won the game. That’s all I care about.”
Vols senior forward Jeronne Maymon on Arkansas: “They’re a really tough team. They’re gonna take you out of your comfort zone and make you do things you don't want to do. They were rebounding, and we just missed a couple assignments, but then we kind of got back to our game later in the second half. We had to do it, because you’ve got to protect your home floor.”
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin on the difference in Jordan McRae in the second half: “I think the difference is in the first half with his shots, they were leaners, floaters, off-balanced rushed shots. In the second half, he was squaring up, catch and shoot, attacking the rim under controI. Even last year when he made his stretch run, he was squared up shooting his shots, as opposed to leaners, floaters, off-balanced, and I thought he did that late in the first half and into the second half tonight.”
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson on Vols senior guard [b]Jordan McRae: “I thought there at the end he got loose on some screens. We did a good job, I thought, in the first half. Then in the second half, you’ve got to switch. Our guys didn't switch to close him out. Then look at the free throws ... the guy shot almost 20 free throws. I thought we did a good job in the first half. He's a scorer.”
The Next One
Tennessee (12-6, 3-2 SEC) travels to Florida on Saturday for a game against the sixth-ranked Gators (15-2, 4-0) in the O’Dome.
Arkansas (12-6, 1-4) will host SEC cellar dwellar Auburn (8-8, 0-5) in Bud Walton Arena.
Contact Wes Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247
Arkansas 2-20 on the road under Mike Anderson