KNOXVILLE -- Cuonzo Martin's debut as the Tennessee men's basketball coach was positively golden Friday night.
As in Trae Golden. Or perhaps the sophomore point guard should change his first name to Trey after bagging five 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 29 points in the Volunteers' 92-63 victory over UNC Greensboro of the Southern Conference.
"I haven't done that since my senior year in high school," said Golden, who hit just six 3s in 33 attempts (18 percent) last season.
"I just worked on my shot over the summer with my dad. It's all about repetition. But I don't gauge whether I'm in a zone by how many points I score. My zone is handing out assists, getting others involved."
It's not all about repetition for Golden. The Powder Springs, Ga., resident dropped 17 pounds over the summer by "cutting out fried foods. And I love fried chicken. But my mom was nice enough to start baking it for me."
Noticeably lighter, Golden was able to shake and bake his way to a career-high nine assists to such as junior forward Jeronne Maymon (15 points, four rebounds), sophomore guard Jordan McRae (14 points, three assists, two steals) and reserve senior forward Renaldo Woolridge (11 points, eight rebounds).
"I really thought Renaldo did a good job coming off the bench," Martin said. "Got 22 points from our bench. That's a good number."
With an official attendance of 17,483 inside Thompson-Boling Arena, there were a lot of Big Orange cheers for good numbers in virtually everything, including field-goal shooting (65 percent), 3-point success (63 percent, 15-of-24) and opponent field-goal rate (42 percent).
Martin's only disappointment was in rebounding, where the Vols were outglassed 34-31 overall and 20-7 on the offensive backboards.
"We did a good job defensively. We didn't do a good job of rebounding," he said. "But we haven't worked on box-out drills in over a week. We will on Sunday."
By then Martin will have graded video and found what the Vols must still work on as they prepare for Wednesday's 7 p.m. visit from Louisiana-Monroe before heading to Hawaii for a Nov. 21 date with Duke in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.
But he didn't need video to grade Maymon's effort.
"He's one of those guys who's going to be one of the better players in this league at his position," Martin said. "I think he's really our anchor on the defensive side of the ball."
That's fine with the 6-foot-7 Maymon, who transferred to UT from Marquette in December 2009 but was anchored to the bench most of last winter.
"We [the bench players] had no confidence last year," he explained. "Because if you missed a shot you were coming out. Now we have a coach who says if you don't take an open shot you're coming out."
It just might all be enough to have a lot more Big Orange fans come out to watch Martin's men play.
"I think we were able to put on a show," Martin said, "so it was a fun evening."
According to Maymon it was the first of many.
"This is our year," he said. "We're not going to let anyone stop us."
If the Vols keep hitting 65 percent from the field, he might be right.