published Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Tennessee rolls past Wake Forest

  • photo
    Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes dunks the ball during their NCAA college basketball game against Wake Forest in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Tennessee was sputtering after its debut in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Volunteers are heading home with a slew of newfound momentum.

Jarnell Stokes scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Darius Thompson scored 16 points and Tennessee beat Wake Forest 82-63 on Saturday in the fifth-place game at the tournament in the Bahamas.

"Good team win," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Coming off a tough loss the first night, I didn't think we played well on either end of the floor. But our guys did a tremendous job of bouncing back. Really, a lot of credit to our guys for bouncing back after that first game."

Stokes needed only nine shots from the floor to get his 21 points, and his 10 rebounds were twice as many as the total posted by any Wake Forest player.

"My mindset coming out is never to score," Stokes said. "If someone is open and it's not my time to score, I won't try to. I come into every game just trying to play defense and get as many rebounds as I can."

In the Bahamas, that's exactly what Stokes did: three games, three double-doubles.

Jordan McRae scored 10 points for the Vols (5-2), who controlled play throughout. Tennessee outscored Wake Forest 40-26 in the paint and held a 34-28 rebounding edge in the first matchup between the programs in nearly 43 years.

Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 17 points for Wake Forest (6-2). Travis McKie scored 15 points and Coron Williams added 10 for the Demon Deacons, who shot 42 percent compared with 53 percent by the Volunteers.

Wake Forest lost to No. 2 Kansas to open the tournament, then beat Southern California on Friday.

"We had three experiences here. We had the decent, the very good, and the ugly," Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "And we need to, as a team, understand why each experience happened and to draw from that. We played a team today that is a very mature, physical basketball team. They threw the first punch, put us on our heels and we did not control our emotions."

The game was chippy, sometimes mildly heated, with the teams combining for 50 personal fouls and 60 free-throw attempts.

Tennessee's first game in the Bahamas was a late-night loss Thursday to Texas-El Paso, leaving Martin lamenting how his team was misfiring in a number of areas.

A night of short sleep followed, and Tennessee got right in a hurry. The Volunteers won their last two games in the tournament by a combined 34 points, and Stokes had the 22nd double-double of his 57-game Tennessee career.

"That's what I try to do every game," Stokes said.

Tennessee soon plays two other ACC teams, hosting North Carolina State on Dec. 18 and Virginia on Dec. 30. The Vols return to action this Saturday against Tennessee Tech.

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