Vols' Record-Setting Day Destroys Rival Vanderbilt, 76-38

Rout Could Boost Tennessee's NCAA Tournament Hopes

Sunday, March 2, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee pummeled Vanderbilt, 76-38, on Saturday afternoon with a record-setting defensive effort at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols moved to 18-11 overall and 9-7 in the SEC, making a push for a Top 4 seed in the SEC Tournament that begins in Atlanta on March 12.

Vanderbilt's 38 points are the fewest scored by an opponent in TBA history. The previous low was 40 set by MTSU in 2007 and ETSU in 1996.

The Tennessee win by 38 points was the largest in the 185 meetings with Vanderbilt, dating to 1922. The previous largest margin was 35, in a 56-21 Vol win on Feb. 22, 1947.

In holding Vanderbilt to just 38 points, it was the fewest points scored by the Commodores in the series since that game in 1947, when they had 21.

The Commodores, who beat Tennessee in Nashville, 64-60 on Feb. 5, fell to 15-13 overall and 7-9 in the league. Vanderbilt did not have a player score in double-figures.

The win was an important one for the Vols, who are also making a statement for a berth in the NCAA tournament. Tennessee has two regular-season games remaining: at Auburn on Wednesday and vs. Missouri at home next Saturday.

Senior guard Antonio Barton scored a season-high 21 points as he made a career-high tying 5-of-7 from 3-point range. The Vols are now 6-0 this season when Barton makes three of more 3-pointers.

Junior Jarnell Stokes notched his 17th double-double of the season, third most in the nation, with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Senior Jordan McRae added nine points to move to 20th on the Vols' career scoring list (1,389), passing JaJuan Smith (1,384). Next on the chart at No. 19 is Jimmy England (1,407).

The Vols scored the first six points of the game and never looked back. Tennessee raced to a 24-6 lead in the game's first 10 minutes as Barton was red hot from 3-point range, making three trifectas early on.

The win was the 10th wire-to-wire win this season for the Vols and eighth at home.

Tennessee played a stellar first half on both ends of the floor as the Vols led 41-18 at intermission. UT equaled its best defensive first half in terms of fewest points allowed. The 18 points were also the fewest scored by Vanderbilt in the first half this season.

The Vols shot 57.7 from the floor including 58.3 from 3-point range (7-of-12). On the defensive end, Tennessee limited Vanderbilt to 31.8 percent and forced the Commodores into eight turnovers. Tennessee committed just two miscues in the first 20 minutes.

All eight Vols to see action in the first half scored as Tennessee received nine bench points and held Vanderbilt without a point from its reserves.

The second half saw the Vols continue their domination of the Commodores. A Stokes dunk and Barton's fourth 3-pointer of the game put Tennessee ahead 49-22 less than four minutes into the second half.

The lead ballooned to 35 points on a free throw by Jeronne Maymon with 7:36 left in regulation, making it 61-26.

Barton's fifth 3-pointer moved the margin to 40 with 1:26 left in regulation.

Tennessee retired the No. 14 jersey of the legendary Dale Ellis prior to the game. Ellis was a two-time All-American for the Vols during his career from 1979-83.

The Vols play their final regular-season road game of the season on Wednesday, March 5 as Tennessee travels to Auburn. That game airs on SEC TV and can be heard on the Vol Network with an 8 p.m. ET tip.

Postgame quotes:

Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

(Opening Statement)
"Great team effort- start to finish the guys played well, defended well. It's one of those games shots were falling, guys played at a high level, every position I thought guys did their jobs. This is one of the teams in the league when you scout them- they have so many wrinkles into their different actions, it's not an easy team to scout. You have to have a level of discipline to you and I thought our guys did a great job of taking the scouting report from start to finish on both ends of the floor into their game. You saw the results and when you're making shots like that, the way Antonio [Barton] made shots, big guys got the ball around the rim and made plays, got big rebounds. We spend a lot of time working on bigs getting the rebounds. If you don't have an easy shot, pitch it out to those guy for three and attack off the dribble. Thought we were clicking on all cylinders today, so great team effort and tremendous crowd."

(On if today's game was the best all season)
"I think one of them. Virginia was a good game. I thought we played against Ole Miss. I thought we played well at Alabama- just consistency. Sometimes it's unfortunate for young guys. They base their results and productivity on how many points they scored and their production offensively. They don't understand the value of good defense. It can take you a long way. You look at the best teams in the country, they defend at a high level consistently whether shots are falling or not."

(On Antonio Barton)
"What happens is, when you have a guy, now earlier in the season, he struggled. He wouldn't put the time into like he needed to with classes, class obligations and not just committed to the time to be a really good basketball player and a good shooter. It's probably mean about a month now- 10 o'clock every morning, like clock work, he's getting shots in with coach Webster every day. At some point, the shots eventually have to fall for you."

 (On Jordan McRae)
"I think it helps when your leading scorer, and he's a little banged up to his defense. He's not one of those guys that's going to complain about or make excuses, so that's probably one of the only reasons he didn't have the production that he normally has. But it does help when other guys can step up and you can win a game like that, it helps."

(On the difference between this game and the one in Nashville)
"We just stayed focused until the end. We had come off a big win against Alabama on the road, but we aloud those guys to get their heads up. Today, we penetrated and made plays. We did a better job of defending the guard. We slowed Odom down and made his catches tough. We forced him to make plays off the dribble."

(On Moore and Reese's play) 
"I think what Armani just improved was his three point shooting. It helps him to really open up. He has always been a strong driver, but he wasn't getting better at his finishing. Earlier in the season, he wasn't finishing very well, but now he is finishing well. He is physical when he defends you. For most guards, that can take a toll on you. He has gotten better with his perimeter skills and game, which I think really helps."

(On Dale Ellis' talk with the team) 
"He talked about playing as a team. He said you have to have a love for your team. For him to have received his award, he had to give a lot of credit to his teammates because a lot of guys made sacrifices for him to be the guy, but that was never his intention. He was just on a basketball team trying to be the best that he could be. His coach told him to play around the rim, and he did what his coach told him to do, and when he got to the NBA he improved his three point shot. He tried to get better everyday, so a lot of things that our guys can relate to. He also talked about preparations like eating habits, sleeping habits and the time you put into being a good teammate."

SENIOR GUARD Antonio Barton

(On being more comfortable in the starting line-up or not)
"It doesn't make any difference."

(On having a fun time playing today)
"I was a lot of fun. The crowd was amazing. We kind of fed off their energy. When you come out playing defense like that everything just falls into place."

(On the scoring)
"Everybody was just locked in. Practice has been competitive. We watched a lot of film. We took that last game personal. They came in and hit us in the mouth hard. We wanted to come back this game and stop that."

(On difference between now and the last game against Vanderbilt)
"Defense. We took pride in our defense. We helped each other out. We did an awesome job rotating when guys got beat. We just had each other's back."

(On coming out strong the second half as well)
"Jeronne (Maymon) the first thing he said when we walked into the locker room was we can't let up. We can't get too up. We just have to come out in the second half. We have been known to come out in the second half and let teams back into the game. We emphasized that we would come out here with the same intensity of the first half."

(On importance of today's game)
"All of our games are important from here on out. The last four games we have to take it personal to the SEC tournament. We have to win out."

Sophomore Guard Armani Moore

(On slowing down Vanderbilt)
"It's kind of tough when you play a team one time, but once you play a second time, you get a feel of how they run their offense and what to do in putting a little bit more streak on your defensive assignments. I feel like we did a very good job of carrying out our defensive assignments. We had a couple of breakdowns, but as a collective unit I thought we did a good job of sticking to our defensive assignments."

(On Antonio Barton)
"He was great. That's one reason he's here today- to play and show what he has, to make a statement."

(On defensive play)
"Yes. That's where we've been somewhat short this year. We come out and show spurts of playing great defense, great breakdown of it. Today I felt like we were very consistent. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns but nothing major. I feel like today we were very consistent throughout the whole game."

(On team chemistry)
"I don't think our team is hard to figure out. It's getting our chemistry going. Today, we were helping each other out, whether it's on the defensive end or the offensive end, an extra pass or ball swing back around to you. I think we did a very good job of sharing the ball and talking to each other."

Sophomore Guard Derek Reese

(On the team enjoying Antonio Barton playing well as much as Antonio enjoyed it)
"We were happy for him. Dale Ellis talked to us yesterday about loving your teammates. You have to love what he is doing. If he is being successful you cheer him on. Everyone needs to have the energy and just love each other, help each other out. So when he was hitting those shots we were trying to get him the ball a little more and just cheering him on. It gives him the confidence to make even more and to keep playing better."

(On role players stepping up during these important games so close to the tournament)
"It is very important. We can't win with just five players, three players or whatever it is. We need to win with a team all 15 of us. Everyone needs to do their part and their role the best they can. Some night Jordan (McRae) may not score 25 or 30 points so someone else needs to step up. He still had a good game everyone else was just stepping up to their role. It is just very important not to put too much pressure on the role players. You just need to come in and contribute to the team."

Junior Forward Jarnell Stokes

(On Vanderbilt wearing "Our State" shirts in their first meeting of the season)
"Yeah it means a lot to me, being a home guy. I hate when another team tries to claim the state when we are named Tennessee. Rivalry games inside of the state definitely mean a lot to me."

(On how Antonio Barton's play translated to the rest of the team)
"We are very tough. I sat in this same spot I think the Ole Miss game and said he was probably our X factor for the rest of the season. When he is playing well it opens up so many things. If we are playing pick up, he will play like he did today, every game. That's what I tell him, go out there and treat it like a pick up game."

(On the difference between the two Vanderbilt games)
"We definitely wanted to come out with a bang. Dale Ellis talked to us yesterday, he is a quite tempered guy, but his words meant a lot to me, they stuck with me. He asked us to blow them out for him, so I guess that was a part of it."

Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings

(Opening Statement)
"Well, we were beaten at every turn. They got off to a great start. We were never able to do anything to negate anything that they did. We didn't shoot it well, we didn't guard well, we just didn't play well and they played very well on both ends. Disappointing day for us to say the least."

(On how Vanderbilt has been getting off to slow starts)
"I certainly didn't think the game was going to be like that. I thought we would get back into it, fight our way back into it, we just never did. They were better than us the entire 40 minutes. There was never a point where you felt like we were anywhere close to controlling the game or the better team in the game or playing better in the game. They were the better team in the game for the entire 40 minutes."

(On Tennessee shooting the ball well)
"They started shooting it well. They made all those threes in the first half and we have a little bit of that lately, guys shooting 23 percent and jump up and make one or two against you. The percentages suggest that that shouldn't happen until it does. You are just in a big dilemma with them because of Stokes' presence inside and so you go down and you try to give support where you think you can and then they T-off from the outside. So when everybody starts making shots like they made today it is going to be tough for anyone to beat them. If they shoot it like that it is going to be tough for anyone."

(On what hindered them today)
"We couldn't score it inside and we couldn't score it outside. We just had nothing. Damian [Jones] couldn't get on an attack inside and we couldn't get him the ball when he was open a few times. He got pushed away from the basket a lot. We just didn't have anything, anything going all afternoon."

(On if the team wasn't focused because of the previous Florida game)
"I would like to think not, we tend to try to move on to the next game regardless of what happens before it. I thought based on our two days of practice that we were more prepared to play than what we demonstrated today."

(On what Tennessee did better today)
"They probably controlled our penetration a little bit better. They probably did a better job just covering the ball. We weren't able to turn the corner on it like we did at our place."

(On Tennessee's inside players)
"It makes a big difference because I like [Josh] Richardson is one of the most underrated players in our league. They have two physical guys inside that are most very difficult to guard, difficult to box out, and they make the game easier for everyone else. [Jordan] McRae is obviously a terrific player. They just get in that rhythm and then everybody starts making them, which is what happened today. [Antonio] Barton made the first few. I have been saying all season long that they are a really good team and I think they have a chance to do really well in the NCAA Tournament."

(On if Tennessee will make the NCAA Tournament)
"I certainly do. I have been saying that for weeks. I said that when we played them the first time. I certainly do."

(On Rod Odom)
"He didn't have a great day. Kyle [Fuller] didn't have a great day. Those two guys played great the last time we played them and neither one were quite as good today. But no of them were, we didn't have one guy that I thought played the way they needed to play in order for us to have a chance to win this game. 

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


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