Vols Down LSU 74-69 in OT


Tennessee rolled into Baton Rouge on Wednesday night needing a key road victory to ensure a bye in next week’s SEC Tournament and behind the trio of Jarnell Stokes, Trae Golden, and Jeronne Maymon they did just that as they downed the Tigers 74-69 in a overtime.

Stokes paced UT with 18 points on 9-10 shooting. Maymon and Golden were consistent as always with 14 points each and both chipped in with 5 rebounds apiece.

” He [Stokes] played really well. He scored the ball. He was aggressive and physical,” said Martin. “It was probably the best job he’s done all year posting up. He also wanted the ball. It was one of those deals where he wanted the ball and we were running plays for him. He stepped up big for us.”

The Vols were down 35-24 at halftime in an abysmal half of basketball, but came out on a 7-0 run out of halftime and slowly chipped away at the lead until they tied it up 60 all with under three minutes left.

“I just more or less told the big guys that their big guys were outplaying us,” Martin said “Our big guys hadn’t stepped up. We hadn’t played well so we had to do something about it. Our big guys, in the second half, made the adjustments and did what we needed to do to win the game.”

The key for Tennessee was Stokes plain and simple. He set the tone, went toe-to-toe with Johnny O’Bryant and Storm Warren and simply put the team on his back.

“I definitely looked for my shot. I sort of let it come to me. In the first half, I was playing lackadaisical and it showed,” said Stokes. “In the second half, I wanted to come out and get it done. Coach Martin was getting on us.”

The key for the Vols going forward is emphasizing their post play against Vanderbilt in the season finale. Stokes is proving he can be a consistent option night-in and night-out and he’ll be key to take some of the pressure of Jeronne Maymon.

UT finishes the season on Saturday at home against the Vanderbilt Commodores in an ESPN Nationally Televised game that tips-off at 4 p.m.

“They’re all tough. They’re a talented team,” Martin said of Vanderbilt. “They played well at their place against us. I think our guys will be ready to go and it should be a tremendous atmosphere.”

Tennessee, as crazy it sounds, can earn the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and finish 2nd in the SEC with a win Saturday against Vanderbilt and a Kentucky victory over Florida. If the Vols are to fall against the Commodores the lowest they would finish is 5th. Also, if Florida and Alabama both win their games 0n Saturday Tennessee would finish 5th as well.

What’s craziest is this team was picked to finish 11th in the SEC and is in legitimate contention for 2nd overall in the SEC. Sure Calipari will pull off an undefeated SEC season, but he was expected to do that, Cuonzo exceeded further expectations. Call me crazy, but  give me Coach Martin for SEC Coach of the Year.