Dec. 21, 2012
Knoxville, Tenn. - Trey Sumler scored a game-high 23 points to lead a pair of Catamounts in double figures on Friday night, but a second half run by Tennessee allowed the Volunteers to outlast Western Carolina, 66-52, in front of 15,109 fans in nonconference action at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee (7-3) took advantage of a commanding 30-to-8 advantage on points scored from the free throw line, recording nearly half of its points on the night from the charity stripe. The Catamounts held the Vols to just three first half field goals as Tennessee scored 16 of its first 22 points in the opening 20 minutes from the free throw line, finishing 30-of-42 from the stripe.
"Our guys didn't quit, that's the trademark of this team, they just kept hanging in there," said WCU head coach Larry Hunter during post-game comments on the Catamount Sports Network. "I thought Trey Sumler was terrific. When we needed a basket, he was involved in the play - whether it was scoring himself or giving it to somebody. Our guys battled."
He added, "I thought the whole ballgame we competed really well and we had a good run there offensively (in the first half), but the last 10 minutes they were scoring at the foul line and that was a big difference in the game on the stat sheet."
Sumler shot 8-of-17 from the floor and added seven made free throws to eclipse the 20-point plateau to pace WCU. Brandon Boggs came off the bench for 15 points as the only other Catamount player in double digits. Seven other Catamounts recorded points on the night, but none tallying more than three.
Led by 14 points from Jordan McRae, Tennessee put four players in double figures with a fifth just missing a double-double. Jarnell Stokes and Josh Richardson both recorded a dozen points apiece while Trae Golden rounded out the four Vols in double figures with 10 - eight of which coming from the free throw line. Kenny Hall just missed the double dip with nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Playing its 10th game away from home on the season, Western Carolina (4-8) took advantage of Tennessee's shooting woes early in building a 10-point edge midway through the first half. The Catamounts used a 10-0 spurt, holding the Vols scoreless over a five-minute stretch to lead 14-4 at the 9:38 mark.
All told, Tennessee went 10 and a half minutes between field goals in the opening stanza, missing 14 of their first 15 shots. Yet the Vols managed a four-point, 22-14, edge at intermission.
Out of the halftime locker room, Tennessee was able to pull away by as many as five points on two occasions, but could not put the Catamounts away. Preston Ross buried a 3-pointer from the right wing at the 13:10 mark to knot the game for the fourth time and James Sinclair gave WCU a one-point lead with 11:57 remaining in the game.
However, Richardson put the Volunteers ahead for what proved to be for good on a lay-up at the 11:38 mark, sparking a 21-to-4 run to pull away. Tennessee stretched its advantage to as many as 18, 60-42, before the final tally of 14, 66-52.
Tennessee won the battle on the boards, out rebounding WCU 45-to-30, turning 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points. The Vols also converted 12 Catamount turnovers into 16 points.
After a 10-day break, Western Carolina returns to action on New Year's Eve - Dec. 31 - as it rings in the New Year with a 2:00 pm tip-off against the Liberty Flames in the Ramsey Center.
Western Carolina at Tennessee - Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina dropped its fourth-straight game to Tennessee, relegating the Catamounts to 1-7 all-time against the Volunteers ... WCU additionally dropped to 2-36 all-time against the teams currently in the Southeastern Conference (SEC);
- Trey Sumler enters the holiday break with 1,047 career points, moving two more positions on WCU's all-time leading scorer chart to 36th all-time ... Sumler by-passed former Catamount standouts Corey Muirhead (38th, 1,025 points from 2003-06) and Dave Elmore (37th, 1,044 points from 1958-60);
- Sumler recorded double-digit scoring for the 59th time in his Catamount career, surpassing the 20-point mark for the ninth time;
- Western Carolina held Tennessee to just three first half field goals (3-for-21, 14.3%) on Friday night ... It was the first time since 2006 that a Vols squad was held to three made field goals in a half with Butler holding UT to just three made shots from the floor in the second half of a game played at Madison Square Garden;
- Tennessee's 30 made free throws matched a WCU opponent season-high, shared with 30 made charity tosses by Western Kentucky;
- WCU was held to a season-low in 3-point field goals made (2),3-point field goal attempts (12) and 3-point field goal percentage (2-of-12, 16.7%);
- Tennessee claimed its 300th victory inside Thompson-Boling Arena, remaining perfect at home on the season at 5-0 ... the Vols are 300-104 at Thompson-Boling Arena, their home floor since the 1987-88 season.