Comeback Falls Short In Vols' 85-80 Loss

Jan. 4, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vols made a furious comeback in the second half, but were unable to overcome a 21-point deficit and fell to Memphis 85-80 before 19,535 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Memphis (10-3) was on fire from floor most of the night as the Tigers shot 56.4 while the Vols (8-4) battled to cut the deficit to just four with less than a minute left. But the Vols were unable to overcome the steep margin.

Junior Jordan McRae had his best game of the season and tallied a career-best 26. He was one of four scorers in double-figures. Josh Richardson also had a career-high with 20 points. Richardson tied his career high with nine boards.

Kenny Hall had his third-career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Jarnell Stokes added 11 points and nine rebounds.

Joe Jackson led Memphis with 20 points while Adonis Thomas added 18. Geron Johnson had 16 and D.J. Stephens chipped in with 11.

Down by as many as 21 with 14:04 left in regulation, the Vols mounted a comeback which started midway though the second half. McRae canned back-to-back 3-pointers followed by a Richardson jumper to cut the deficit to 13 at 62-49 with 10:38 left.

McRae's fourth 3-pointer of the half -- with 9:20 left -- cut the margin to 10, 64-54, at the 9:20 mark.

The Vols sliced it to eight on a Richardson jumper that was goaltended with 7:35 left in the game, making it 66-58. The margin shrunk to six on Hall's layup with 6:47 left. After a 3-pointer by Johnson, Stokes answered with a bucket -- that was goaltended again -- with just over six minutes left.

Jordan McRae's career-high 26 points only show half of his performance after Tennessee's 85-80 loss to Memphis. The Midway, Ga., native used both 3-pointers and defensive stops to help motivate Tennessee back from a 20-point deficit in the second half.

"You can't come out that slow against a team of that caliber," McRae said. "We did that, and it cost us."

With 15 minutes left in the game, McRae started heating up after making his second 3-pointer of the game to make it 55-39. The 6-foot-5, 178-pound guard hit four shots from beyond the arc in the second half to finish with a total of five for the night.

"We all fought hard tonight, especially Jordan," teammate Josh Richardson said. "We can't hang our heads because we played hard. Being able to fight and come back like that, I think it really shows you a lot about us."

Coming out of a media timeout with just over nine minutes left, head coach Cuonzo Martin called a play for his guard with the hot hand.

McRae caught the ball in the left corner and quickly passed to the top of the key. Then, he ran to the right corner, and coming off a screen, he caught a pass from Brandon Lopez and made a 3-pointer to get the Vols back within 10, 64-54.

A couple possessions later, McRae stopped a charging Adonis Thomas, who weighs 240 pounds, in the paint to force a turnover, which would eventually lead to a Richardson jumper.

"It's going to be tough to move on from this," McRae said. "But we just have to focus and get ready for the SEC."

- Ryan Howard

After Hall drew his second charge of the game, the Vols continued to chip away, Stokes put home a putback for a 69-64 score. But, Memphis responded as Johnson canned another 3-pointer.

The Tigers regained a double-figure lead on Shaq Goodwin's 3-point play with 2:48 left at 77-66. Richardson, who had missed a dunk prior to Goodwin's and-one, gained a measure of redemption with a 3-pointer at the mark.

Richardson hit hit back-to-back buckets to cut the deficit to four at 79-75 with 46 seconds left. That was the closest score since UT trailed 23-19 with 5:28 left in the first half.

The Vols couldn't get any closer as they continued to push. Richardson hit a 3-pointer with 7.7 left and McRae hit a runner for the Vols' final bucket.

The loss was Tennessee's first of the season at home after winning the first six. It was also the Vols' first regular-season home loss in 13 contests dating to last season.

Memphis expanded its lead to 20 on a 3-point play by Jackson three minutes into the second half, giving the Tigers a 51-31 advantage. The largest lead of 21 came by virtue of a 3-pointer from Thomas with just over 14 minutes left in the game.

Memphis led 42-28 at halftime.

Tennessee struggled early on as the Vols shot just 27.6 in the first half, making only 8-of-29 shots from the floor. On the flip side, Memphis was blistering from the floor, making 64 percent (16-of-25).

Memphis took a 34-23 lead on a jumper by Chris Crawford with 2:46 left in the half as the Tigers scored on six consecutive possessions.

The lead ballooned to 15 at 42-27 on a 3-pointer by Antonio Barton with 1:06 left in the half. The Tigers scored on 10 of their final 12 possessions of the half.

The Vols were down by eight early on as Memphis took a 13-5 lead in the first 6:30.

Tennessee debuted new adidas orange-on-orange uniforms for its "#OrangeOut." It was just the fifth time the Vols wore orange in a home game in history.

The Vols finish their season-long six-game homestand as they open their 2013 SEC schedule. Ole Miss comes to Thompson-Boling Arena next Wednesday, Jan. 9 for an 8 p.m. tip-off. That game airs on the SEC Network and can be heard on the Vol Network.





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