Golden Steps Up On Biggest Stage For Vols

Saturday, February 16, 2013 - by Kevin Connelly
Sometimes big expectations don’t yield big results.

Tennessee point guard Trae Golden was experiencing that first hand.

Just 13 games into his junior season with the Volunteers, the player who was named to the Preseason All-SEC second team by the coaches, had lost his starting job.

“The stretch he was going through, whatever it was, I have no clue, we were trying to figure everything out,” said head coach Cuonzo Martin. “That was not the guy who finished for you last season.


The numbers were there to prove it, too. Entering Saturday’s contest against rival Kentucky, Golden was averaging 10.4 points per game, with only 2.8 assists. A big drop from his team-leading 13.6 points and 4.6 assists he put up last season.

“That is when you have your ups and downs as a team, because the guy you can count on for production at the point guard position is not at the level he needed to be,” said Martin.

Then came another set back on Jan. 29 as the Vols were in the midst of an important stretch in their conference schedule. Against in-state rival Vanderbilt, Golden suffered a strained right hamstring that would sideline him for the next two games. Coincidentally, both UT losses.

“Everything falls apart and you struggle when you are trying to find lineups,” explained Martin. “I could not figure it out. There were so many things going wrong.”

Winless on the road, and in need of a conference win, the Vols traveled to South Carolina on Feb. 10 with Golden back in uniform. He responded with 16 points off the bench, tying his third highest point total of the season.

With the feeling his point guard had earned his job back, Martin re-entered Golden into the starting lineup for their next road test – a trip to Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. He responded again, leading his team to a 58-46 win and registering his second consecutive double digit scoring performance, to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.

Now, ridding a two game conference winning streak, the Vols welcomed Kentucky to town and all the talk was about SEC Player of the Year candidate, and the nation’s leading shot blocker, Nerlens Noel being out.

Golden saw that as an opportunity to attack the rim more, and took advantage of it. He led all scorers with 24 points, as Tennessee gave Kentucky its worst loss under John Calipari with an 88-58 beat down at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.

“We were just telling him we felt he had a miss-match the whole game,” said Vols guard Jordan McRae after the game. “We were telling him to lead the team, keep going strong to the basket, and that’s what he was doing for us.”

The best indicator Golden was listening to his teammates? He attempted 12 free throws, his second highest output of the season.

“I think it made a difference since they didn’t have their big man down there blocking shots,” Golden said of Wildcats playing without Noel. “But you know that didn’t matter for us, they are still a good team without him. We just wanted to attack and get to the rim as much as possible.”

His eight assists and zero turnovers put a stamp on what turned out to be the Volunteers largest margin of victory over the Wildcats in school history.

“To me personally, it means a lot,” said Golden. “I think it means even more to Tennessee. I haven’t beat Kentucky since I have been in college so it is just a great win for us.”

Certainly a confidence building win as well. As Tennessee sits in eighth place in the conference standings – tied with their next two opponents LSU and Texas A&M – Cuonzo Martin’s club has shown vast improvement after an 0-3 start in the conference.

With only three games separating eighth place from second in the SEC, the Vols hope they are rounding into form for the stretch run.

“I think in the last three games this is the Tennessee team I am accustomed to seeing,” said Martin. “If [Trae] is playing like that and Jarnell Stokes is playing the way he has so many games, then this is Tennessee Basketball at the level we expect it to be at.”

For a team that finished second in the SEC last season, and only lost one starter from it, expectations were high. Then again when you’re without your leading rebounder and second-leading scorer for the season due to injury, and shuffle lineups like they’re a deck of cards, results might not be the best way to determine success.

Except for Saturday, where Trae Golden and the Tennessee Vols played with enormous success and got a big time result.

Lookouts Rally Falls Short In Thursday's 7-6 Loss To Smokies

The Chattanooga Lookouts battled back with two runs in the ninth inning, but could not complete the comeback against the Tennessee Smokies Thursday night at AT&T Field. The 7-6 loss evens the series at one game a piece. The loss drops the Lookouts'record to 20-27.    David Freitas   was the catalyst for the Smokies' offense on Thursday night. The 27-year ... (click for more)

Peterson's Emotional Race Helps Signal Mountain Win

MURFREESBORO – It’s one thing to win one state championship in track.  It becomes a tougher challenge to repeat and at times impossible to even think about a three-peat. But that’s what the Signal Mountain Lady Eagles did here at the Dean A. Hayes Track & Soccer Stadium on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University early Thursday evening. Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Attorney Says Lacie Stone, Advisor To Mayor Berke, Is Victim, Not Instigator

The attorney for advisor to Mayor Andy Berke Lacie Stone said she has been thrust into the spotlight, but said she is "the victim of an unprovoked attack" by her husband, Bobby Stone. Attorney John Cavett said it is ridiculous "to suggest that she was the perpetrator." Mr. Stone is facing charges of domestic assault and vandalism. Attorney Cavett said, "It is unfortunate ... (click for more)

Dr. Russell Dyer Chosen As Director Of Schools By Cleveland City School Board

The Cleveland City School board unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to offer the job of director of Schools to Dr. Russell Dyer. Dr. Dyer serves as the chief of staff of schools in Collierville, Tn.  If Dr. Dyer accepts the school board's contract, he will be paid $132,500 a year.  After contract negotiations, the board plans for Dr. Dyer to start at Cleveland City ... (click for more)

Case Handled Like Any Other? - And Response

It is interesting that Chief Fletcher would deem the handling of the Mayor's encounter as typical or normal. Is the Chief asking the public to believe that all misdemeanor domestic violence arrests include a 4-hour taped interrogation, and delayed reporting after a visit to the Chief’s house. Of course, we believe that Chief Fletcher. April Eidson * * *  I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Judge's Night Behind Bars

There is very little doubt that retired Army Sergeant Joe Serna has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving three tours as a Green Beret in Afghanistan. Once he barely avoided being blown up by a hidden IED and then there was another terrifying brush with a suicide bomber. But the worst was when a truck he was in slid off the roadway into a canal. “It was like ... (click for more)