February 16, 2013
Golden explodes to lead Vols in rout
Three weeks ago Trae Golden looked like an unlikely candidate to lead Tennessee to the school's largest ever margin of victory over Kentucky with arguably the best game of his college career. At the time Golden was not only nursing a hamstring injury, but was six games into coming off the bench after losing his starting job early in the SEC season.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the Tennessee basketball program wondered during the month of January, 'what's wrong with Trae Golden?'
The answer, after today anyway, is nothing at all.
Golden was spectacular against Kentucky on Saturday, scoring 24 points (a career high in SEC play), handing out eight assists and committing zero turnovers. He was also an steady 11 of 12 at the free throw line and has now scored in double figures in three straight games since coming back from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss a pair of games.
"Since I've been back I've just been trying to stay aggressive," Golden said when pressed for an answer on what the difference has been in the last three games. "I don't think I ever lost confidence. I mean, I knew I was playing well, I knew I had some bad games, but I still felt the same as a player.
"Honestly my thing has just been to go out there and try to play my game, have fun and be aggressive. I wouldn't say I've done anything differently, but when you start having some success you get a little momentum going."
Golden absolutely has some momentum going coming out of this sizzling performance. It's easy to see why, even during his struggles, Martin always insisted that Tennessee had to have the junior on the floor and playing at a high level to be successful.
Entering the season, most everyone assumed that simply following the natural progression of things, Golden would be one of the top scoring guards in the SEC. After all, he averaged 13.6 points per game and hit 39% from three as a first year starter in 2011-12, his first year under Martin.
For whatever reason though, whether it was injury or confidence, that natural progression hit a speed-bump this winter, and as December turned into January, it was obvious he simply wasn't the same player he had been a year ago during Cuonzo Martin's first season in Knoxville.
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