McRae, Barton Lead Tennessee Past LSU In SEC Opener, 68-50

18-6 Run In First Half Propels Vols To Big Road Victory

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

BATON ROUGE, La. A late first-half surge propelled the Tennessee Volunteers to a 68-50 victory over LSU to open Southeastern Conference play Tuesday.

Thanks to a 3-point barrage by seniors 

utsports.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/antonio_barton_860691.html" style="outline: none; color: rgb(68, 68, 68);">Antonio Barton and Jordan McRae, Tennessee (10-4, 1-0 SEC) outscored the Tigers 18-6 in the final seven minutes of the first half to pull away at Maravich Center.

The Vols maintained their lead in the second half to secure their first road win of the season and the most lopsided road victory in head coach Cuonzo Martin's time at Tennessee.

Reigning SEC player of the week McRae led the Vols with 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, including three 3-pointers. Barton finished with 14 points, thanks to four 3-pointers in the first half.

Junior Jarnell Stokes recorded his team-leading seventh double-double of the season to celebrate his 20th birthday, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds. He has 25 double-doubles in his career.

LSU (9-4, 0-1) cut the Vols' lead to 20-18, but Barton responded by sinking 3-pointer to put the Vols ahead 23-18 with 6:26 in the first half.

Barton added two more 3-pointers in the next six minutes, finishing four in the half. McRae chipped in a 3-pointer of his own in the last minute, and the Vols led 38-24 at halftime.

The Vols were sterling from 3-point range during the first half, making 7-of-11 shots. Barton was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc with a team-leading 12 points. McRae was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers with 10 points.

Tennessee was 54 percent from the field in the half (14 of 26) while holding LSU to just 34 percent (11 of 32).

The Vols kept up their high percentage shooting and led by 12 points or more the entire second half. Tennessee extended their lead to 20 points at 68-48 on a pair of free throws by McRae with just over a minute left.

The Vols finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor (24 of 52). They also enjoyed a solid night at the free throw line, making 12-of-15 shots (80 percent).

The 18-point final margin of victory marks the most lopsided road win in the Martin era and the largest road margin of victory for the Vols since beating South Carolina by 24 points in an 80-56 win on Jan. 12, 2008.

Jordan Mickey led LSU with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Johnny O'Bryant III was the only other LSU player in double figures, finishing with 11 points.

The Vols return to action Saturday, hosting Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Eastern at Thompson-Boling Arena. 

Postgame Quotes Provided by LSU Athletics:

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH CUONZO MARTIN

Opening Statement…
“It was a great team and road win. I thought our guys were locked in and I thought they did a great job of paying attention to detail. It was just a good effort from top to bottom. We didn’t do a very good job of holding on to the ball and we were too casual with the ball. We have to clean that area up but for the most part it was a great team effort on both sides of the ball.”

On what started the run…
“I think when our big guys are aggressive and in attack mode we are in good shape. Then when are guards are making shots from the perimeter, we are a really tough team to beat. When you add in shooting from the three and free-throw line so well our balance gets better.”

On Jarnell Stokes’ game…
“I think he is doing a great job on offense, but an even better job defending. I noticed when he had a lot of breakdowns but I don’t see that anymore. He’s done a great job of accepting challenges based on who he is guarding. He is a great basketball player and really understands the game. I also want to see him stay aggressive.”

On the lineup…
“It’s strange. I thought in the preseason when Rawane (Ndiaye) was still learning things that he would be able to play in league play. What happens in league play is you know your opponent better. You’re familiar with your opponent and different things like when they’re going to make substitutions. I felt like Rawane would play better in league play than out of conference. It was definitely by design and not by mistake. He didn’t have a great night, but he has earned those minutes.”

On the three point shooting…
“I think before the season, shooting 20,000-30,000 shots in the summer has to make you better. I thought we were a pretty good shooting team going into the season but we didn’t shoot too well in those early games. The guys are shooting the ball a lot better now. We’ve been spending time in practice working on it. Shooting is really confidence and rhythm though.”

On starting out SEC play with a win…
“It’s a great feeling. It’s one game at a time though and a new season. To beat a team like this on their home court is not easy so it feels good. I’m really proud of the guys in our program.”

TENNESSEE PLAYER QUOTES

G JORDAN McRAE

On coming out strong on the road in the first SEC game…
“It felt good to get a really good win on the road. LSU is a really good team. They have a lot of good pieces to their team. This game on the road was huge for us. It feels really good winning on the road. We haven’t had this feeling, especially the first SEC game, the past two years. We have being going 0-2 or 0-3. We couldn’t find our way. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

On what he did differently tonight… 
“I am just trying to do a better job of scoring points easier and finding good shots, not taking fifteen shots to do what I need to do. I am trying to find everybody and get everyone involved. Antonio has been playing a lot better. We know he can shoot. We are trying to get him easier shots and open shots, and that’s good for everyone.

On Tennessee’s bench stepping up…
“That just shows the depth of our team. D’Montre (Edwards) came in and knocked down some shots and played solid defense. That was huge for us.”

G ANTONIO BARTON

On Tennessee’s solid performance in the first SEC game…
“Coach told us before the game that it is about ups and downs and going through adversity. First half we started off hot. The second half we cooled down, but we still played defense. They kind of trapped me, but I didn’t let that get to me. I turned the ball over a few times, but I kept going and kept playing.”

On LSU’s defensive performance tonight…
“That is very good LSU team. They are pretty young, but they are very talented and very big. A couple times they had me, and I couldn’t see in the trap. That is very good, but they just have to grow and keep going.”

LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening Statement…
“Tennessee – a veteran basketball team – did an excellent job of coming in and playing really well from tip to finish tonight. I thought they did a great job of taking over the game. Their guards did about midway through the first half, played extremely well and did more of the same in the second half. I don’t think we competed at the level that we needed to to have an opportunity or chance with a team of the caliber of Tennessee. There are certainly some things that we will have to work on, and that’s going to have to be a complete team effort. I thought we were out-toughed early on, and I thought in the second half we did not play with the passion that we needed to to be able to compete and battle with these guys.”

On the pace of Tennessee frustrating his players…
“I think we are certainly capable of playing at other paces because of the make-up of our team. I thought their guards were able to step out and knock down shots; I think they hit seven threes if I’m not mistaken in the first half, and some of those threes were unguarded. We had blown assignments or those guys did a great job of getting themselves open. In the second half I thought we were able to speed them up. With that, we got beat on some hustle plays. We allowed them to only shoot 30-something percent in the second half. We turned them over 16 times, and they are not a team that turns it over. We didn’t take advantage of it because we failed to score on the other end of the floor. Our lack of scoring – we just didn’t execute at the level that we needed to against a good basketball team.”

On tonight’s effort …
“It’s something that we’re going to have to correct. Unfortunately, we’ve allowed guys to get minutes and possibly places, and we’ve just got to make sure that all that is earned. The minutes that guys play on the floor, they’re going to certainly have to earn them. We’ve at least given guys a chance to show what they’re capable of doing, but the minutes are going to have to be earned. That’s going to have to start in practice. Positions are certainly going to start in practice as well. We’ve got to do a great job. This may not be the best starting lineup for us. These guys have to go back and compete, play hard. If it’s anything to you and you’re looking for playing time, you’re certainly going to take a little bit different approach. If you want to play, compete and get some of those minutes, then you’ll have a little bit different effort. That’ll go from practice and games, and we have to make sure we take it from practice to the game.”

On figuring out who is ready to compete …
“We’ve got to make sure that it’s wholesale for us. I think we’ve got to go through our whole basketball team, and everybody will certainly have to get out there and compete. We don’t have anybody that’s really standing out right now, outside of Jordan Mickey. I think day-in and day-out he’s been able to show that he’s competing in every game, regardless of what his numbers are. He’s done that from practice to games. I’d say Shavon Coleman as well. Outside of those two guys, we have to make sure that guys are competing at a different level.”

On being out-hustled by Tennessee …
“I don’t know if it’s so much standing around and watching. They did a great job of controlling the tempo of the game. They spread the floor. They made sure that you have to run extremely long to try to get traps on them. They took care of the basketball for the most part. Then, they scored, especially in the first half, and knocked down threes. Their post guys didn’t really get going, but their perimeter guys did. In the second half, when we felt like we had traps or had beaten them, they got the balls out of the traps, and they were dunking on the other end of the floor because we failed to challenge them at the rim. Those are some things that we’ve got to clean up and understand how important it is in those possessions. When we get tips, we’ve got to come up with the 50/50 balls, and we allowed them to come up with too many of those tonight.”

LSU PLAYER QUOTES

G Anthony Hickey

On Tennessee’s experience as a basketball team…
“Tennessee is a very talented basketball team, I cannot take any credit away from them. We just need to come ready to play all the way through the line-up. One thru 15, all of us we didn’t come ready.  We need to come focused and today we were not.”

On how tough their left-side was for him…
“It was tough. We got the shots we wanted but we were struggling to make the shots. I do not think it was that much of a difference, we just were not able to make the shots.”

On LSU’s lack of movement…
“We got a little bit of movement toward the end, which was just too late. We just need to come out ready next game. We were too close together. We need to be able to spread out and cover the floor better. They had good shots and solid rebounds. I believe Tennessee came ready to play tonight.”

F Jordan Mickey

On the inability to get the inside game going… 
“They guarded really well and did not allow easy post catches. It really came down to that.”

On halftime talk…
“We just talked about coming out in the second half ready to play. We needed to come out harder than we did in the first half. We spoke about trying to get some more turnovers. They were still able to convert. We just need to get better from here. We are a good team with a lot of potential. We have to come ready to work every day. We just cannot take any days off or any games off.”

On the start of SEC play…
“It is a lot like what we expected. It is a much faster and much more physical type of play. I have to come back ready to play for the next game. I felt my team came out and competed well, we just did not make some plays we needed to make. We put ourselves in a deep hole at the beginning of the game and could not come out of it.”

On Tennessee’s defense…
“They were just packing the lane. They did not allow us to get any easy post catches. They made it hard for us to score on the inside. Some of the adjustments we made were to run some ball screens, get them moving and get people out of position.”

TENNESSEE (10-4)

Stokes 5-14, 5-7 15, Maymon 3-9 3-4 9, Richardson 3-5 0-0 6, Barton 5-10 0-0 14, McRae 6-7 4-4 19, Ndiaye 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 0-3 0-0 0, Reese 1-3 0-0 2, Edwards 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 24-52 12-15 68.

LSU (9-4)

O’Bryant 5-11 1-1 11, Martin 2-8 1-2 5, Mickey 7-10 0-0 14, Hickey 2-7 2-4 7, Stringer 0-5 0-0 0, Coleman 2-5 0-0 4, Hammink 0-1 0-0 0, Malone 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 2-7 0-0 5, Odo 0-1 0-0 0, Quarterman 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 22-60 4-7 50.

Halftime – Tennessee 38-24.

3-Point Goals – Tennessee 8-15 (Barton 4-7, McRae 3-3, Edwards 1-2, Thompson 0-1, Reese 0-2), LSU 2-14 (Morgan 1-3, Hickey 1-5, Martin 0-1, Stringer 0-1, Quarterman 0-2, Coleman 0-2).

Fouled Out – None.

Rebounds – Tennessee 40 (Stokes 15), LSU 28 (O’Bryant 7).

Assists – Tennessee 12 (McRae 5), LSU 11 (Stringer 4).

Total Fouls – Tennessee 9, LSU 15.

A – 7,918.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 


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