Tennessee Basketball: Vols take back the state

Jarnell Stokes

Roughly four short weeks ago the state of Tennessee basketball was rocked by an upsetting loss to in-state, and struggling rival Vanderbilt.

Dismayed by the loss and the way Vanderbilt continued to claim this was their state after their program had defeated Tennessee in both men’s and women’s basketball, as well as on the grid iron for the second straight season, the Vols took to the hard wood with a purpose on Saturday afternoon. Take back the state.

From the opening tip, and on to the final buzzer, Tennessee dominated the Commodores in all facets of the game as they doubled up Vanderbilt to defeat them 76-38 in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday afternoon.

Exactly how bad was it for the Commodores? Even if the Vols didn’t score a single point in the second half, they still would’ve won by three.

Tennessee held Vanderbilt to their lowest point total of the season, as well as the lowest point total put up by any opponent in the history of playing in Thompson Boling Arena. In fact, not a single Commodore made it to double-digit figures in either scoring, or rebounding.

What was more impressive was the Vols were able to dominate a game with little to no help from their leading scorer Jordan McRae.

McRae found himself sidelined early and often due to foul trouble. With only nine points, and only five shot attempts, McRae eventually fouled out of the game late.

Instead, leading the way for Tennessee this time around was again Antonio Barton, who has finally found his comfort within the confines of Thompson Boling Arena. In the Vols last two home outings Barton has led the way in scoring, and been lights out shooting from beyond the arc.

Barton was responsible for half of Tennessee’s three-point makes with five of the 10 put in by the team. Tennessee connected on just one less three-pointer than Vanderbilt did total shots from the field.

The only normal statistic by the Vols from Saturday afternoon’s game was Jarnell Stokes picking up his 17th double-double of the season in just 29 games. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, giving him two more rebounds than points scored by Vanderbilt’s leading scorer Kyle Fuller.

Saturday was definitely a boost in the right direction for the Vols tournament chances, especially with Virginia claiming a victory over Syracuse and clinching outright the ACC regular season title. Since getting walloped in Knoxville, Tenn. 87-52 back in December, the Cavaliers have gone on a tear and climbed their way up the rankings. They have literally been the gift that keeps on giving for the Vols.

Tennessee will still need to close out strong in the final week of the regular season, and avoid an early exit in the SEC tournament to sneak their way into the tournament for the first time in three years.

They will close the season with a road trip to Auburn on Wednesday at 8 p.m., and then return home to finish their season, yet again, against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday at 4 p.m.