Jan. 21, 2012
In his first-career start, Stokes notched his first-career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes.
The Vols held UConn's bench to zero points, while UT's second unit contributed 15 points.
In his first career start, Jarnell Stokes recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Tennessee has won four consecutive games over defending national champions at Thompson-Boling Arena.
UT held the Huskies to their second-lowest shooting percentage of the season, making just 20 of 55 attempts.
For just the 12th time in its last 163 games dating to the 2007-08 season, UConn was held below 60 points.
BY JOSH PATE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Freshman Jarnell Stokes notched his first career double-double in just his third collegiate game as Tennessee upset defending national champion and No. 13-ranked Connecticut 60-57 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Stokes, who earned the start for the first time since joining the Vols just two weeks ago, poured in 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Tennessee relied primarily on its inside game against the physical Huskies.
"I thought Jarnell did a good job once again," Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "He had some breakdowns defensively, which is expected because he's learning as we go, but I thought his energy, his toughness, his will to receive the ball and desire to score the ball really helped us get over the hump."
With Tennessee (9-10) leading by 1 midway through the second half, Stokes broke an 0-for-9 shooting slump for the Vols when he drained an open jumper from the baseline to increase the lead to 37-33 with 9:50 to play.
Connecticut (14-5) responded when Jeremy Lamb got a basket inside, but Stokes was fouled on the other end and hit one free throw. Then Kenny Hall collected a rebound in the paint and put it back in the hoop to keep the Huskies at arm's length, 40-35.
Shabazz Napier drained a jumper for the Huskies, but Stokes went to work again. The freshman drove the ball into the lane and drew contact, throwing up a circus shot that went in.
Tennessee extended its lead to double digits when Cameron Tatum hit a 3 and then Golden hit a free throw to make it 53-42 with 3:15 to play.
The Huskies did not go down without a scrappy fight, thanks to Lamb and Napier as the clock ticked down. Lamb hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to make it 55-51 Vols. Golden made a free throw, then Napier hit another 3 for Connecticut to cut it to 56-54 with 23 seconds remaining.
McBee hit two free throws for Tennessee, and Hall added a foul shot, but Napier answered with yet another 3-pointer for the Huskies to make it 59-57 Tennessee with 6 seconds remaining.
Tatum was fouled but made just one of his free throws. The desperation shot by Napier from nearly halfcourt as the clock expired was off as the Vols secured the upset.
"I think that last game guys started getting more down about themselves, including myself," Stokes said of Tennessee's overtime loss at Georgia Wednesday night. "We were right there and we were ready to get over the hump. But you stay in the fight and this is what happens."
Tatum was right behind Stokes in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Tennessee's defense, however, set the tempo for much of the afternoon. Connecticut came into the game shooting a scorching 47.9 percent from the floor, but the Vols held the Huskies to just 36.4 percent shooting. It was the second-lowest shooting performance by the Huskies this season and their lowest point output of the year.
"From a playing standpoint, I thought we did a good job defensively again," Martin said. "We've gotten a lot better in that area and are taking pride in defending, holding a team like that with really good guards and physical bigs, the way they rebound and the way they score. I thought we did a good job of really challenging shooters and boxing out, which wasn't an easy task because you look at those guys. They've got some big guys when you get up close to them."
The Vols, however, were able to keep Connecticut's big men in check mostly, as the Huskies were led by their guard combo. Lamb had a game-high 23 points, and Napier added 18 as the only Huskies in double figures.
"They made some big plays and defended us pretty well," said Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun. "Mainly, they just dug, scratched and clawed, which was exactly what we said they were doing. We thought on tape they played very hard and they played harder than we did. That's how they won the game."
The game was tight from wire to wire. Both teams led by just 4 points in the first half, and the game was tied five times in the first 20 minutes with the Huskies taking a 27-25 advantage into the break despite shooting just 33.3 percent in the first half.
Tennessee broke loose early in the second half with 9 unanswered points in the first four minutes of the half to lead 34-27. Connecticut, however, fought its way back when Tennessee missed nine consecutive shots before Stokes broke the drought.
Martin was happy with the performance and said the defensive show was what he expects from his team.
"This is the way a Tennessee team will defend as long as I'm a part of this program," Martin said. "I tell our guys, let's hang our hat on the defensive side of the ball."
The message was received as Stokes cited his defensive play over his point production.
"I was just pushing," Stokes said. "The one thing I hung my hat on was defense. I was actually a horrible defender in high school, but somehow Coach Martin worked that out."
Tennessee returns to SEC play Tuesday night when it travels to in-state rival Vanderbilt for a 7 p.m. ET tipoff (ESPNU).