Throughout the season everyone has been waiting for Jarnell Stokes to have a breakout game for the Tennessee Volunteers. The Sophomore sensation did it Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Stokes had a double-double with 11 rebounds and 18 points.
Stokes manhandled the Bulldogs from the very beginning. Every time he received the ball he looked like scoring. Stokes could’ve easily had 30+ points if Tennessee had decided to pass it to him more often. His rebounds were what really caused his play to stand out. He had five offensive rebounds; he scored a majority of his points on second chance opportunities. If Stokes plays with that kind of aggression in other games, especially against an “in-the-paint” challenged team like Missouri, he will have much success.
The only real aspect of Stokes’s game that looked like it needed work Saturday afternoon was his decision making when he had the ball. Sure, Stokes can handle two guys on him with no problem, but when three or four defenders swarmed him, he still tried to take the shot. Stokes needs to learn that when the odds are stacked against him that it’s okay to pass the ball outside.
Jordan McRae’s recent string of 20+ point games really opened up room for Stokes to succeed. It was hard for the Bulldogs to get help down-low with the lurking threat of McRae on the outside. Tennessee really looked good, but whether that is a testament to the Bulldogs being the unluckiest team in the SEC, or Tennessee starting to find its groove again, no one knows.