MEMPHIS — Cuonzo Martin got a win in Memphis last month.
Tennessee's first-year basketball coach was denied a second on Wednesday night.
A sluggish first half offensively and defensive breakdowns throughout doomed the Volunteers on the road against cross-state rival Memphis, as the Tigers won 69-51 at FedExForum for their second win against UT this season.
“We weren't hitting shots,” said UT point guard Trae Golden, who led the Vols with 22 points on eight-of-14 shooting. “It's so tough as a player for you to focus in on defense. That's something that we've got to really do. We were shooting shots we weren't used to shooting, missing shots and it affected our defense.”
The Tigers scored 11 of the final 16 points in the first half for a 28-20 halftime lead. UT (7-7) shot just 30 percent from the field and had nine less rebounds than Memphis. After staying within striking distance early in the second half, Memphis (9-5) slowly pulled away, its lead ballooning to as much as 22 points.
“I think our guys did a really good job in the first half of defending,” Martin said. “I think what it came down to is you have to be able to put points on the board. [Memphis] did a good job of defending us, and what happens is you're defending, you're defending, you're struggling and all of the sudden [the deficit] goes to seven, nine, 11 and 13.”
Check back later for more about the Vols loss at Memphis online and in Thursday's Times Free Press.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...