No. 23 Wichita State loses 69-60 at Tennessee
Carl Hall was as good as ever for No. 23 Wichita State. He just didn't get enough help.
Hall matched a career high with 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds - seven offensive - but none of his teammates managed to score in double figures as the Shockers lost 69-60 at Tennessee on Thursday night.
Wichita State (9-1) was seeking to go 10-0 for the first time in school history. The Shockers started 9-0 in 2004-05 and 2006-07.
''We just didn't play well,'' Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. ''We had too many guys not play as well as they need to play. We weren't very smart.''
Hall certainly did his part.
The 6-foot-8 forward just missed recording his fifth double-double of the season. His three-point play with 3:59 left gave Wichita State a 59-58 lead and fouled out Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes.
But the Vols (5-3) outscored Wichita State 11-1 the rest of the way.
''We're just going to get back to the drawing board,'' Hall said.
The Shockers, who joined the Top 25 two weeks ago, know what they must fix.
Wichita State committed 16 turnovers, shot 12 of 20 from the free throw line and struggled with foul trouble all game. Cleanthony Early and Demetric Williams of the Shockers fouled out.
''We fouled too many times,'' Marshall said. ''We didn't make our free throws. They did.''
Trae Golden scored 25 points and was 13 of 16 from the free throw line for Tennessee (5-3). Jordan McRae added 17 points and made all eight of his free throws.
In its last two games, Tennessee had lost 37-36 to Georgetown in the SEC/Big East Challenge on Nov. 30 and 46-38 at Virginia on Dec. 5. The only other time Tennessee (5-3) failed to score 40 points since the introduction of the shot clock in 1985-86 was a 43-35 loss to Auburn on Jan. 15, 1997.
''I told the guys it was a must-win before the game,'' Golden said. ''I knew it was a must-win.''
Tennessee knew it needed a quality nonconference victory before entering Southeastern Conference competition. Wichita State wanted to continue its hot start.
The result was a December game played with March intensity.
''I just wanted to make sure we won that game,'' Golden said. ''We couldn't afford to go on a three-game losing streak. It was a huge win for us.''
Tennessee broke out of its offensive funk by shooting 47.5 percent from the field and matching the highest point total Wichita State had allowed all season. The Shockers won 72-69 at Air Force on Dec. 2.
The Vols are shooting 50.8 percent in their wins and 29.1 percent in their losses this season.
''This is a quality win against a quality opponent,'' McRae said. ''That's a great team. They were undefeated, ranked. That's one we needed.''
Tennessee won despite playing most of the second half without Stokes, the Vols' leading scorer and rebounder. Stokes had six points and seven rebounds while playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
Golden went 6 of 8 from the free throw line during the game-ending run. He made one of two free throws to tie the game with 3:29 left. Kenny Hall put Tennessee ahead for good by making two free throws with 3:10 remaining.
Throughout the game, Golden drove into the lane and drew contact. The junior guard went 13 of 16 from the foul line after attempting a total of 11 free throws in the five games leading up to this one.
''Trae Golden was huge tonight,'' Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''He really attacked the rim, made plays and forced the referee to make calls. He was very aggressive. I thought it was his best game all season, just being assertive and being in tune on both ends of the floor. I thought he was outstanding defensively.''
Tennessee's reserves outscored Wichita State's 31-17.
Tennessee reserve Yemi Makanjuola had nine points and eight rebounds to help the Vols overcome Stokes' foul trouble. Makanjuola, a 6-9 sophomore, played solid post defense that helped limit Wichita State to 38.2 percent shooting.
''I said going in this is probably the best defensive team we've played all year,'' Marshall said. ''They make it tough for you. We had some good looks. (We've) got to knock them in.''