After suffering a season opening loss on the road Tuesday night, Tennessee basketball returned to Knoxville, Tenn. for the Volunteers home opener.
After a slow start the Vols were able to regroup and bounce back Saturday night in Thompson Boling Arena to defeat the USC Upstate Spartans 74-65. For the Spartans it was their second straight loss, both coming on the road and by less than 10 points.
Tennessee came into Saturday night’s matchup against an upset minded USC Upstate squad seeking a bounce back victory after a tough road loss to Xavier on Tuesday night.
The Vols’ biggest shortcoming in their season opening loss was a dismal 7-19 shooting from the free throw line. They responded well against the Spartans as they finished hitting 29-of-36 from the line Saturday night.
Tennessee got off to a slow start against USC Upstate. Their biggest deficit of 13 points came with 5:28 left in the first half.
Early in the game Ty Greene was the star of the show for USC Upstate, but his hot start couldn’t follow him into the second half. However, the Spartans’ leading scorer Torrey Craig picked up where Greene left off in the second half, but his efforts would still fall short in leading his team to their second victory of the season.
The Vols’ were able to absorb the 1-2 punch the Spartans delivered with their two key players, and after cutting what was a 13-point deficit down to seven by halftime, it was all Tennessee in the second half.
With the leadership of Jarnell Stokes, Jeronne Maymon and Jordan McRae, Tennessee outscored the Spartans 39-23 in the second half. The three combined for 50 points, while newcomer Antonio Barton added another 13 with two big three-pointers to help boost the Vols’ comeback.
McRae led the team in scoring with 18 points, but it was Stokes and Maymon picking up their first double-doubles of the season after both had less than average performances against Xavier. Stokes finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds, while Maymon finished with and 11 rebounds.
The Vols will get Sunday off before returning to the hardwood for their third contest of the season when they host the Citadel on Monday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in Thompson Boling Arena. Their game against the 2-2 Bulldogs can be seen on Fox Sports Net.
Like USC Upstate the Citadel also has a dynamic duo, but instead of a guard and forward combination the Bulldogs have two forwards who lead the team in scoring and rebounding.
Freshman 6-foot-6, 180-pound forward Brian White, and sophomore 6-foot-6, 218 pound forward Matt Van Scyoc both average 18 points and eight rebounds per game for the Bulldogs. While they’ve both had their early season success, they’ll both be dealt a physical test from Tennessee’s two dynamic forwards, Stokes and Maymon, on Monday night.