Golden, a 6-1, 201-pounder who will be a sophomore at Tennessee this season, came through like a champion after The News-Sentinel trimmed Choice Spine's lead to 93-88 with five minutes left. He hit a 3-pointer from the wing that widened the gap to 96-88 with 4:40 to play. He drained an 18-footer from the right corner to make it 98-89 with 3:04 left. Then, after The News-Sentinel closed to 98-91, he delivered the dagger with a 3 from the key that padded the lead to 101-91 with 2:17 remaining en route to a 105-99 win.
Golden, who backed up senior point guard Melvin Goins for the Vols as a freshman last season, was understandably pleased with his impressive finish.
"The game started getting a little close," he said, "and my teammates were counting on me to close it, so I made sure we got good looks and made sure I made the shots."
Even in a league that plays very little defense, Golden's performance Wednesday night was noteworthy. He hit 10 of 18 shots, including 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc, and drained all eight foul shots en route to 32 points. The team he was facing wasn't exactly chopped liver, either. The News-Sentinel features Tennessee teammates Jordan McRae and Skylar McBee, along with former Vol Wayne Chism.
As impressive as Trae Golden was throughout the game, it was his play in the last five minutes that really stood out. That's when games are won or lost, and he made sure his team won this one. As soon as he brought the ball across midcourt, he was looking to score.
"I definitely like playing point because the decision's on you," he said. "You have to live and die with what you do. That's what I've been preparing for. That's what I'm trying to get better at, so I can make the right decisions for my team."
Asked if this game reminded him of his high school days, when he routinely put the team on his shoulders in the closing minutes, Golden smiled.
"I think everybody (in college) was like that in high school," he said. "I'm just trying to balance out scoring with getting my teammates the ball - keep everybody happy on the court."
Minus five of the top six scorers from last season, Tennessee needs Golden to be an offensive threat, as well as a playmaker. He averaged 29.8 points per game as a high school senior in Powder Springs, Ga., so he's ready for that challenge.
"Definitely," he said. "I think it's going to be on me, Cam (Tatum) and Jordan (McRae) to score more. Cam and Jordan are great players, and I'm learning where they like the ball, so by the time the season comes around I'll know their spots and I'll be ready to get them the ball."
Vol teammate Jeronne Maymon hit 8 of 19 shots and chipped in 22 points for Choice Spine. McRae paced The News-Sentinel, making 19 of 35 shots en route to 48 points. He has now scored 48, 41, 46 and 48 points in his first four summer-league games. Chism added 15 points and McBee 12. Wales native Ryan Kilmartin, who is joining the Vols as a walk-on after two seasons at Appalachian State, was 1 of 4 from the floor for 3 points.
LARRY SMITH 125, RALPH BROWN 112
Quinton Chievous scored 26 points and fellow Tennessee signee Josh Richardson added 15 in helping Larry Smith Insurance to victory. Chievous hit 9 of 13 shots, Richardson 6 of 11. Galen Campbell, a recent graduate of Knoxville's Fulton High who is joining UT as an invited walk-on, sank 4 of 4 shots en route to 9 points. Vol senior Renaldo Wooldrige hit an assortment of layups and dunks, finishing 16 of 28 from the field en route to 32 points for Ralph Brown & Associates. Brandon Lopez, a UT invited walk-on from Knoxville Austin-East High School, was 0 for 2 from the field and scoreless.
DeROYAL 118, RICHARDSON 113
Tennessee senior Cameron Tatum scored 31 points on 13-of-27 shooting but it wasn't enough to lift Richardson Construction to victory. Former Vol Dane Bradshaw added 20 for Richardson. Tennessee junior Kenny Hall struggled through an off night, making just 3 of 12 shots en route to 10 points for DeRoyal.