Burly sophomore Jarnell Stokes scored five of his game-high 24 points in a late 14-0 explosion that proved decisive as Tennessee beat UMass 83-69 Sunday in the third-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Vols bounced back from a horrible performance in Friday's 62-45 loss to Oklahoma State by giving their best effort of the year. They out-shot the Minutemen 45.2 percent to 34.8 percent from the field and 43.7 percent (7 of 16) to 33.3 percent (9 of 27) from beyond the 3-point line. Tennessee also won the backboards 43-34.
The 6-foot-8, 270-pound Stokes made 7 of 12 field-goal tries, 10 of 17 foul shots and led all rebounders with 12 as the Vols improved to 3-1. With Jeronne Maymon still sidelined by knee problems and Kenny Hall hampered by foul trouble, Stokes was pretty much Tennessee's entire inside game.
"I was looking more for my offense," he said on the post-game show. "Coach told me to try and score the ball, even against the double-team. I left a lot of free throws out there -- I've got to make my free throws -- but, overall, I feel like this was a great team win."
Jordan McRae came off the bench to add 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Josh Richardson had a fine all-around performance, recording 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Skylar McBee and Trae Golden also scored 11 points each for the balanced Vols. Hall, hampered by foul troubles for the second game in a row, finished with 3 points, 5 rebounds and 4 fouls in 16 minutes.
Jesse Morgan scored 18 points and Chaz Williams 16 to pace the Minutemen, now 2-1.
With the game tied 54-54 and a little more than eight minutes left, McRae nailed a 3 from the left wing to open Tennessee's game-winning 14-0 spurt. Stokes followed with a pair of driving layups, each time missing an and-one. Richardson scored on a drive and a putback, then Quinton Chievous hit a 10-footer from in front. Stokes capped the rally by making one of two free throws as the lead swelled to 68-54 with 5:10 remaining.
UMass closed to 73-65 but Stokes, McBee and Golden hit two free throws each as the Vols snuffed the rally and went up 79-67 with 55.5 seconds left.
Speaking on his post-game show, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin called the performance "a really good win," conceding that "The Tennessee team against Oklahoma State ... I'm not accustomed to seeing that team, so I don't want to see that again.
"They (Minutemen) have four guys on the floor who can make shots and make plays, and it's tough, but I thought our guys did a tremendous job of bouncing back without a scouting report."
In addition to 11 points, Golden contributed 6 assists and just 1 turnover in 29 minutes at the point. He generally held his own against 5-foot-9 UMass speedster Chaz Williams.
"Normally, Trae has a tough time dealing with those quick point guards," Martin said.
Golden did an especially good job handling fullcourt pressure, an area in which he has struggled in the past.
"I thought he did a great job," Martin said. "In my years at the University of Tennessee, I thought this was his best job against the press. We talk about it all the time and work on it in practice: Keep the ball alive at all times. Don't pass the ball unless you absolutely have to. This was the first time since I've been here that he kept the ball alive and made plays."
Tennessee is off for a full week before returning to action Nov. 26 against Oakland. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena.