Nov. 3, 2011
BY JOHN PAINTER
KNOXVILLE - Tennessee showed up a little late to its own coming-out party, but not too late to claim a 73-52 victory Thursday over Carson-Newman in the debut exhibition game for head coach Cuonzo Martin.
The Vols used an 11-0 run to end the first half, and then limited their Division II neighbors to just four second-half field goals to rally from a sluggish start.
"I know it wasn't pretty early, but the guys managed to get it done and did a good job doing that," Martin said. "We did not jump to the ball as well as we'd like. We didn't have five guys boxing out, but I thought overall the guys did well for their first game."
Jordan McRae, sporting a new No. 52 jersey this season, led all scorers with 17 points. He scored 12 of those consecutively for the Vols midway during the first half to lift Tennessee from its early slumber.
Martin had to wait more than 3½ minutes on the Thompson-Boling Arena clock to see his team's first basket. Cameron Tatum finally broke the ice with a 3-pointer at 16:32 that ended an early 6-0 run by Carson-Newman.
The Eagles kept applying the pressure and still led 16-10 with 11 minutes to go in the first half when McRae took over. The sophomore scored 12 straight Tennessee points on a field goal, a 3-pointer, two free throws and another trey before his driving dunk at 8:07 lifted Tennessee to its first lead at 22-20.
It was 30-28 Eagles when the Vols capped the first half with 11 consecutive points over a 3:16 span. Josh Richardson and Trae Golden sparked the streak with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 39-30 halftime advantage.
Tennessee's defense was the difference in the second period. Carson-Newman scored just two field goals over the game's final 18 minutes and finished 4-of-24 from the field for the second half. Jared Johnson's layup with 8:27 to play was Carson-Newman's final field goal of the game.
"Overall, I would give them a C+ on the defensive side of the ball," Martin said. "I thought Jeronne Maymon did a good job of crashing the glass on both ends of the floor. It was very impressive. Jordan McRae did a solid job as well."
Maymon earned game-high rebounding honors with 15 in just 27 minutes. He added 10 points to join Golden with 14 for UT's two other double-figure scorers.
The Eagles, coached by former Vols assistant Chuck Benson, were led by 13 points from Antoine Davis. Johnson, Ishmael Sanders and Corbin Jackson added seven points apiece.
Free throws were an early issue for the Vols, who missed six of their first seven attempts. But Tennessee was 13-of-17 from the stripe in the second half and finished a respectable 21-of-33 for the game.
The Vols won the rebounding battle, 51-32. Both teams committed 22 turnovers.
Tatum and Skylar McBee chipped in a pair of 3-pointers for UT, which was 10-of-31 from long distance. Tatum finished with eight points and McBee had six.
"I would like to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us the way they did," Martin said.
Tennessee's second and final exhibition game is Monday against Lincoln Memorial, with a 7 p.m. tip at Thomson-Boling Arena. The Vols open the regular season Nov. 11 at home against UNC Greensboro.