KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A strong inside-outside game led by Jarnell Stokes and Antonio Barton guided the Vols to a 67-48 Southeastern Conference victory over Georgia on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Stokes dominated in the post on both ends of the floor as he had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks along with three assists and a steal. The junior notched his SEC-leading 15 double-double and shot 9-of-13 from the floor.
Barton caught fire from long distance to give the Vols a weapon from beyond the arc. He made 4-of-7 from 3-point range to finish with 12 points. Barton had made just 5-of-38 over his last 11 games. He had made a total of two 3-pointers in his last seven contests.
The Vols moved to 16-10 overall and 7-6 in the SEC while Georgia saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. The Bulldogs are now 14-11 and 8-5 in the league.
Barton's big night made up for a off night from the Vols' leading scorer Jordan McRae who had 11 points on just 2-of-5 from the floor. The Georgia native came into the averaging 20.4 points per game in SEC action.
Josh Richardson added 10 for Tennessee, his sixth time in double-figures in seven contests.
Tennessee held Georgia scoreless over the final 3:34 as the Bulldogs had a season-low 48 points. The 48 points were the fewest allowed by UT in a game this season and fewest since Vanderbilt was held to 46 on Feb. 13, 2013.
Kenny Gaines led Georgia with 13 points while J.J. Frazier set a career-high with 12 points, including 10 in the first half.
The Vols expanded on a six-point halftime lead early in the second half thanks to 7-0 run keyed by a rare 3-point field goal by Derek Reese. That put Tennessee ahead by 10 points, the first double-figure lead of the game, 45-35, with 14 minutes left in regulation.
After Barton canned his third 3-pointer of the game, Stokes dropped in a nifty lay-up to put the Vols ahead, 50-38 with 10 minutes left.
A trey by Richardson moved the margin to 14 at 57-43 with eight minutes to go and the Vols cruised from there.
Tennessee shot 55 percent on 11-of-20 from the floor in the second half, making 4-of-7 from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes.
The Vols' defense was stout in the second half, limiting Georgia to 25 percent in the period as the Bulldogs finished 34 in the game.
Thanks to a big first half from Stokes, the Vols led 34-28 at halftime. Stokes led all scorers with 13 points while Frazier had 10 for Georgia -- to set a new career-high, in his eight minutes of action.
Stokes scored seven of the Vols' final nine points as the Vols took the six-point lead into intermission.
The Vols head to Texas A&M to play the Aggies for the second time this season on Saturday at 3 p.m. Texas A&M pulled off a stunning 57-56 win over Tennessee on Jan. 11 in Knoxville. That game will air on ESPNU and can be heard on the Vol Network.
HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin
(On getting Jarnell Stokes the ball)
"The key is to always get him the ball. It's no different in any other game. It's a combination of there were better opportunities of feeding the ball but also him posting aggressively. Again, you go back and watch film, watch as a team, he didn't post as aggressively, especially in the last 11-12 minutes of the game, so it's hard to get a guy if you don't post aggressively, make yourself assertive, because even at that point, he wasn't getting offensive rebounds, so you have some games where he's not getting the ball in the post he'll do a tremendous job of crashing that glass, but it's always a focus for us as a team to get the ball inside."
(On guard play)
"I thought our guards played a really good game- great floor game with the spacing and decision making, knowing when to shoot threes, knowing when to attack the rim, knowing when to cut to the basket and allow Jarnell [Stokes] a look, but I think the focus is not just to get the ball to Jarnell [Stokes] and Jeronne [Maymon] post up as well, but we felt like for us as a team, I always said, Georgia scores the ball, but for us to be successful at a high level you have to pound the ball inside."
(On defending Charles Mann)
"He was the key for us going into the game. I thought Darius [Thompson] and Antonio [Barton] did a great job of really accepting that challenge because those were the only two guys that defended him. He's a guy that gets to the rim, one of the best I've seen as far as really attacking. He's physical, he's probably a legitimate 6 feet 5 inches, 200 something pounds as a point guard and he puts his head down and he gets there. I thought they did a great job of really keeping him in front of them and forcing him to shoot jump shots."
(On Antonio Barton's offensive play)
"It takes us to another level, because now you have five guys out there. Jeronne [Maymon] and Jarnell [Stokes] do what they do around the rim. Then you have three perimeter guys that can make shots and with the ability to drive the basketball. It just takes you to another level."
"The one thing about Antonio [Barton]- every morning at 10 o'clock he's getting shots up. When you put the work in, it eventually start falling for you, so it was just a matter of time."
(On Derek Reese's play coming off the bench)
One thing about Derek is he goes up to get big rebounds, he has improved his ability to defend around the rim, and he can make shots. He's not shooting as well as he is capable of shooting, but he is one of those guys that can reel off four or five shots in a row from three point range, so we just need to get him where he has that confidence to consistently shoot the ball.
(On the areas Stokes has improved the most)
The 15- to 17-foot shot, but also attacking the rim from the free throw line and the 16, 17 foot area. He has done a great job in those two areas. I think those are the biggest keys.
(On the team's offensive performance)
"When you make shots, you make plays, we didn't do a good job on the free throw line if I am not mistaken, but when you make shots and you make plays and you defend, you give yourself a chance. That was the biggest key."
(On the team's defensive performance)
"I thought we battled, I thought we played hard. Again, this is the type of team that will bring the action to you, they are not a team that will settle on the three-point line and just toss shots up. They will force the action, they will get to the rim. I thought out guys did a great job in protecting that rim and getting steals. Josh and Armani Moore, those guys will hunt anything down in transition to try and block shots. They are probably two of the best guards in the country doing that."
(On the team's defensive improvement)
"I like the think at some point we are going to be a great defensive team, we are not there yet. Just the consistency of it, trusting in the scouting report and keeping those guys out of the lane. With the new rule it is hard, when you have three or four guys that you are defending that are so good at attacking the rim, it is not an easy thing to defend. I thought our guys did a good job protecting the paint."
JUNIOR F JARNELL STOKES
(On the game being physical)
"I am so used to that. I feel like it is the same way every game. The refs definitely let us play. I think this is one of my firsts games that I went through the entire game without a foul. It was a very physical game."
(On playing a game demanding the ball)
"I am definitely unselfish because I look around the locker room and I know we have a lot talent. We have guys that can make plays. It is tough for me to sit here and tell this guy that I am better than you and desire the ball. I feel like we have more fluidity in the offense when I get the ball. I am not looking to score on three or four guys. If there is a double team I am most likely going to pass it to the open man. I think that is what you have to do to be a play maker."
(On benefit of Antonio Barton shooting well)
"I think that the way Antonio can score the ball and the way he shoots the ball I feel like he is the X-factor of the team by contributing on the outside. Having someone else besides Jordan (McRae) shooting on the outside helps us a lot."
(On driving the ball inside instead of passing)
"It was kind of deceptive sometimes they wanted to double team but they didn't come all the way. Sometimes they wanted to make me think I was going to be double teamed. I think I did a good job of not panicking when that happened because a lot of players would pass the ball or make a dumb play. I did a good job of slowing down. A lot of people would say I need to get it and go. Sometimes you have to realize it is just not my type of game. I like to read defenses and I am a willing passer. I feel like if I am touching the ball that much it helps me a lot. I am willing to pass the ball if I know I can get it back."
JUNIOR G Josh Richardson
(On competing for blocks with Jordan McRae)
"I wouldn't say compete, I would say that we are two of the better shot blocking guards in the league."
(On what got the team going)
"Stuff like that as far as momentum plays. Big blocks, stuff like that. It put a flame under us a little bit."
(On Jarnell Stokes' play tonight)
"Dominating. That is all I have to say."
(On getting Stokes the ball more)
" He was posting up strong today, he was giving us a nice target and we were getting him the ball. I wouldn't say we were trying to getting him the ball, but after he scored eight-straight points, why not?"
(On the game)
"We came in here and played a solid game of basketball. Both sides of the ball. We were definitely sitting down on defense and got our big guys going early and that was good for us."
SENIOR G Antonio Barton
(On motivation to keep shooting)
"It felt kind of good. They always tell me to keep shooting, I just knew it was going to fall once. I was putting up the shots I was just waiting for the right time for it to fall."
(On seeing the shots start to fall)
"It was a big relief, it was huge change in the game. When I'm shooting it just feels like a lot of people having fun and it changed the whole scenery of the game."
(On Georgia shutting down Jordan McRae)
"I don't think they shut Jordan down. He wasn't as aggressive as he's always been but he saw that Jarnell was hot and so everyone wanted to feed him the ball. When he's hot like that we just give him the ball. So I don't think they shut him down."
(On defense on Charles Mann)
"Coach was telling us we had to key in on him. He's a big guard, a physical guard as well. He likes to attack. In practice me and Darius made an obligation to stop him."
"I don't care about starting, I just want to come in and play the game and do what's best for the team. If that means coming off the bench and being the spark then so be it.?"
GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK FOX
"I don't want to take anything away from Tennessee, they really out-physicaled us, but its not how we've been playing. They wore us out in the backcourt. I can't remember the last time we got outrebounded, it's been awhile. I don't think we've been outrebounded in the SEC yet, but they did tonight. You have to give them credit for it. Stokes had a monster game and we tried a number of different things, sent different people at him and he really overpowered us."
"I was very disappointed, he dribbled around our double team. I was very concerned coming in that we were a little sluggish, but Tennessee wore us out, we can't use that as an excuse. He's beating two guys, that's a credit to him."
(On being sluggish)
"It was our third game in eight days, we had a difficult trip to Starkville, we've had the flu bug go through our team, but that's part of it. By design yesterday, we just walked through to get some rest. You've got to show up and play when the lights come on and I'm not comfortable with the effort we gave tonight. But we've been playing super-hard."
(On J.J. Fraizer)
"Charles Mann, who has played so well for us, was not playing well tonight and J.J. kept us in it in the first half, he can really shoot the ball. He's just a freshman who just keeps getting better and better he had a nice first half for us."
(On Tennessee's Antonio Barton shooting the three)
"He made two and then they might have missed seven or eight in a row after that. I think they were 2-11 at the half, he made the two, but we were going to give up that shot to try and slow Stokes down, but it didn't work on slowing him down."
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)