Knoxville, TN - Jordan McRae was simply in ‘the zone’ on Tuesday night in leading Tennessee to its fourth win in a row, 82-72, over LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena. McRae tallied a career-high 34 points, the most by a Vol in six seasons. The junior was perfect from 3-point range, making all six of his attempts. He hit on a career-best 13-of-18 from the floor including a posterizing slam dunk midway through the second half.
The Vols moved to 15-10 overall and 7-6 in the SEC. Tennessee moved ahead of LSU (15-9, 6-7 SEC) into seventh place in the league.Tennessee tied a school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game shooting 66.7 (10-of-15) from beyond the arc. McRae’s individual effort also tied the school record set for most makes without a miss set by JuJuan Smith in 2008 vs. Arkansas.
The Vols’ 57.4 from the floor was their best in an SEC game since Jan. 14, 2010, when UT shot 60.8 vs. Auburn.
McRae wasn’t the only star for the Vols on Tuesday. Sophomore Jarnell Stokes had his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He has hit the twinbill in seven of his last eight games.
Junior Trae Golden continued his tremendous play since coming back from a hamstring injury with 20 points, his fourth straight game in double-figures since his return. Golden is averaging 18.0 in his four games.
A Golden Connection
Jordan McRae and Trae Golden paced Tennessee’s offense all night long to help lead the Vols to a 10-point win over LSU. The two guards, who are former roommates, scored a combined 54 points, shooting 64 percent from the floor.
McRae entered the game averaging 18.8 points per game, which leads the team, and Golden, who is third in points per game on the team, entered averaging 11 points.
“I could tell I was shooting well before the game,” McRae said. “I was open on a couple of shots at the beginning,” McRae said. “After that, I just felt like the rim was huge all night long. It felt like I couldn’t miss.”
McRae came out hot in the second half and hit UT’s first two baskets of the second half, both 3-pointers off assists from Golden and Armani Moore.
With 15 minutes left in the game, LSU brought a full-court press and increased their defensive pressure to try and disrupt UT’s rhythm.
After making some adjustments, the Vols responded with 10:45 on the clock. Jarnell Stokes grabbed a defensive rebound and quickly dished it to Golden. The point guard pushed the ball up the floor and fed it to a cutting McRae, who slammed it down to put the Vols up, 56-47.
The next possession, Stokes was fouled on a layup and made the free-throw attempt for an old-fashioned 3-pointer. Following an LSU jumper, UT beat the press again with a wide-open Skylar McBee 3-pointer to make the score 62-50.
“It was a good press,” Golden said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and find my open teammates and get in a position to score. When someone gets going like Jordan, I try and make sure they get the ball and keep scoring.”
In a match-up of the SEC’s leaders in double-doubles Stokes (11) now stands tied with LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III (11) for the league lead. O’Bryant had 24 points and only eight rebounds before fouling out vs. the Vols.
With 11 double-doubles this season, Stokes has the most double-doubles by a Vol in the last 20 years. Steve Hamer also had 10 in 1994-95.
Tennessee took control of a game in the first half and kept its opponent at bay in the second half for the third consecutive game.
Up 10 at half, LSU battled to keep the game within reach throughout the second half, but McRae’s torrid shooting was the difference.
On a night where he kept the crowd of 15,086 on their feet most of the night, McRae brought down the house with a one-handed fastbreak dunk with 10:43 left in the second half. That put the Vols ahead 56-47.
McRae proved to be too much as he continued pour in the points throughout the second half to secure the win.
For the third game in a row the Vols tallied 40 points in the first half. Tennessee led LSU, 40-30 at intermission thanks to red-hot shooting (59.3).
McRae and Golden each tallied 14 points in the first half as the duo combined to make 11-of-16 from the floor. Tennessee’s only other first-half points came from Stokes and Josh Richardson, each of whom scored six.
The Vols used an early 10-2 run to take a 16-11 lead on a layup by McRae, eight minutes into the contest. That spurt expanded to 17-6 over six minutes as McRae scored 12 of those points as UT built a 25-15 advantage with 8:43 left in the first half.
LSU cut the deficit to as small as four on a 3-pointer by Anthony Hickey with four minutes left in the half.
Tennessee’s 7-0 spurt near the end of the half regained a double-figure lead heading into the break.
McRae’s 34 points were the most since Chris Lofton tallied 35 vs. Texas on Dec. 23, 2006.
The last time the Vols had three consecutive SEC games in which they scored 40 points or more in the first half was back in February of 1998.
The Vols will play three of their next four games on the road starting with their first-ever game at Texas A&M as SEC rivals. Tennessee is 4-1 all-time against the Aggies, with the lone loss coming in the only meeting in College Station.
SectionsAnnouncements, Basketball (Men), Featured Story, NCAA, Southeastern Conference, Sports, University of Tennessee
TopicsAggies, Anthony Hickey, Auburn, Chris Lofton, College Station, Double Double, Jarnell Stokes, Johnny Bryant, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Knoxville TN, LSU, SEC, Skylar McBee, Steve Hamer, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, The Vols, Thompson-Boling Arena, Trae Golden, UT