Vols Hold Off Vandy's Last-Minute Rally, Win 58-57

Jan. 29, 2013

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Volunteers staved off the Vanderbilt Commodores' last-minute rally to earn a 58-57 victory Tuesday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena in front of a crowd of 16,391.

Coming off a career rebounding game Saturday against Alabama, sophomore Jarnell Stokes again led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Vols (11-8, 3-4 SEC) wrapped up its two-game home stand with a pair of Southeastern Conference wins.

The final minute of the game came down to the wire between the in-state rivals in their first meeting of SEC play. Senior Skylar McBee hit the first of two free throws to give the Vols a 58-54 lead with 52 seconds left when Vanderbilt (8-11, 3-5) launched its final comeback attempt.

Vanderbilt's Kedren Johnson made his first free throw and missed his second, but James Siakam tipped the shot back in to cut the Vols' lead to 58-57 with 28.2 seconds remaining.

Vanderbilt regained possession off Jordan McRae's missed free throw on the first of a one-and-one attempt. Vandy ran down the clock to five seconds and Johnson drove in for a final layup down the left side but missed. Kevin Bright missed on a putback attempt that bounced off the rim and time expired.

Stokes finished the game recording his sixth double-double of the season and eighth of his career. McBee hit 3-of-5 3-pointers and also finished in the double digits with 10 points.

By Ryan Howard

Vanderbilt didn't have an answer for Jarnell Stokes, as Tennessee survived to get back-to-back home wins against two SEC rivals.

Stokes's 19 points and 11 rebounds over 31 minutes helped the Vols win the points-in-the-paint battle, 30-26, and his seven offensive rebounds gave UT a 12-4 advantage on second-chance points.

"Going into the game, I just wanted to get every rebound I could whether I could get the ball or not," Stokes said. "It feels good to win the game. But we played in spurts, and I don't think we can keep doing that if we want to go where we want to go."

Every time Vanderbilt mustered a run to get back in the game, the Vols responded with a key play to get back the momentum.

A couple minutes into the game, Stokes stole the ball from behind an attacking Commodore and quickly brought it up the court himself. At the last second, he dished it off to Kenny Hall to give the Vols a 7-0 lead.

"I needed to let my offense come to me and focus on my defense. I think that's been one of my personal struggles this year. I wanted to be aggressive but not force it and let the game come to me."

With four minutes left in the second half and tied at 52-52, Brandon Lopez grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3-point shot and quickly dished it to Stokes, who made the layup despite being fouled. Stokes then made a free throw to give the Vols their final lead of the game.

"I'm happy we were able to come out with a victory," Lopez said. "But we have to put our hard hats on and get ready for our next game. We can't let this win mess with our focus."

Sophomore Josh Richardson added 6 points and 10 rebounds.

Sophomore walk-on Brandon Lopez also contributed down the stretch after Trae Golden left the game with a leg injury. He played 10 minutes and had three assists and two rebounds.

The Vols were off to the races from the tipoff, jumping out to a 12-0 lead start. During that stretch, Stokes scored seven points to lead the Vols. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, committed four turnovers -- one on an offensive foul drawn by Skylar McBee -- and were 0-for-4 shooting.

The Commodores got on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws by James Siakam at the 13:13 mark. The team did not hit its first field goal until 11:53 in the first half.

Vanderbilt was far from being out of the game, however, cutting the Vols' lead quickly with a 18-3 run.

Kyler Fuller made a basket while he was fouled driving to the lane to tie the game at 22-22 and gave Vanderbilt its first lead by making the free throw to complete the three-point play at 2:36. It ended up being Vanderbilt's only lead of the night.

McBee drained a 3-pointer from the left wing on the Vols' final possession of the half to give Tennessee a 27-23 halftime lead.

The Vols looked to be pulling away early in the second half, but Vanderbilt jumped on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 52-52 on a 3-pointer by Sheldon Jeter at the 6:00 mark.

Stokes completed a three-point play to put the Vols back ahead 55-52 with 4:14 remaining in the game. The basket was UT's final field goal the rest of the game.

Johnson led Vanderbilt with 14 points and Josh Henderson added 13.

The Vols travel to Arkansas on Saturday for a road SEC tilt against Arkansas. It will be televised on ESPN2.





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