Tarik Black scored 18 points on 7 of 8 shooting and Antonio Barton hit 4 of 5 three point attempts to lead the Memphis Tigers past the Tennessee Volunteers Wednesday night at the FedEx Forum. Trae Golden led all scorers with 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting, but he had no support from other Tennessee shooters in an abysmal offensive performance.
Tennessee opened well on defense, holding Memphis to 3 of 12 from the field, and the Vols actually held a narrow lead at the first half under twelve timeout. But midway through the first half, the Tigers realized that Black could score at will inside, and the game was never close after that, with Memphis shooting over 50% the rest of the way. Not only did Tennessee have no answer, for most of the game it appeared that Tennessee wasn't even trying to defend Black inside, and uncontested dunks ruled the day.
On the offensive side, the Vols seemed determined to get the ball inside in an attempt to duplicate Jeronne Maymon's outstanding performance against Memphis in Maui. But, while the theory may have been good, the reality saw Maymon force numerous bad shots and finish 4 of 15 from the floor. And the Vols got no help from what has been a very good group of outside shooters, as Josh Richardson, Jordan McRae, Cameron Tatum, and Skylar McBee combined to shoot just 4 of 20.
For the majority of the Vol contributors, this was their first experience playing in an environment like the Forum, as Tennessee's only previous road games this season have been against Oakland and College of Charleston. But if jitters were partially responsible for the poor shooting performance, the Vols won't have long to fix the problem, as four of their next five opponents are ranked in the top fifteen.
One positive to take from a bad night was the news that five star recruit Jarnell Stokes had passed through the NCAA Clearinghouse and will be eligible as soon as the paperwork is submitted to the SEC.
Tennessee is next in action Saturday, for a brunch game at 11 AM against #10 Florida at Thompson Boling Arena.