JOE BIDDLE: Vols-Aggies one for the ages

Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin has played and coached in a lot of basketball games.

Saturday at College Station produced a first for Martin.  It was the first four-overtime game he had ever been part of. The closest he came was as a player in a three-overtime game when his high school team in East St. Louis won its state championship game.

Asked after the game if he would remember the Vols marathon 93-85 quadruple overtime game for some time, Martin gave perspective to the answer: “For the rest of my life.''

It was a once in a lifetime kind of game. It's impossible to put together a highlight film. It would have to be a documentary.

It was 60 minutes of playing basketball, much of it at breakneck speed. A regulation game was followed by a frenzied four overtime periods. At the end, the Vols still had enough grit and adrenalin to walk to the visitor's locker room to party like it was 1999. They had just outlasted a group of tough Texans.

And, why not? It not only their fifth straight win, more importantly the Vols became that team other SEC teams don't want to play.

They showed more resolve, more passion, more poise in those 60 minutes against SEC rookie Texas A&M than in any game during Martin's two years on Rocky Top.

This game may well be remembered as the day Tennessee's basketball came together as one to push and support one another.

Time will tell.

They get a wounded and weakened Florida team in Thompson Boling Arena Tuesday night.

With the indefinite loss of freshman guard Michael Frazier II Saturday in the Gators win over Arkansas, Coach Billy Donovan is down to six players in the rotation. Frazier was the team's top 3-point shooter.

“We've got to play eight guys . … In terms of rotation, six guys is not enough to go to Knoxville with,'' Donovan said. 

It will also be interesting to see how the Vols recover from the grueling game against the Aggies.

Trey Golden and Jordan McRae, the Vols junior guard combination, each played 56 minutes. Golden scored 32 points. McRae had 23. The most impressive performance may belong to sophomore post Jarnell Stokes, who carried his 6-8, 270-pound framed up and down the court for 53 minutes. He had 20 points, 16 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass.

Golden admitted after the game he lost count during the game of how many overtime sessions they had played.

He has recovered nicely since he was demoted to the bench earlier in the season. Golden knows his role is to lead this team, not be concerned about his own game. He is playing much smarter, taking better shots and coming through in the clutch.

The win puts Tennessee in the conversation to grab a top-four seed for the SEC Tournament next month in Nashville. That's important, as the top four get the first two nights off in the 14-team tournament.

After the 12-2 Gators, there are two teams with four losses, two more with five and the Vols are tied with Arkansas with six losses.

No matter how it turns out, Martin and the Vols made history Saturday. The longest game in the program's history will be one that fans can talk about for years.

The team now has to use it as a motivational tool to carry the program forward. The Vols have Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn and the final home game of the season against Missouri. 

We'll see how much gas they have left in the tank.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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