"Throw it down low!"
"Give it to Stokes!"
"Feed the beast!"
The yells from orange-clad fans sitting in the lower bowl of Thompson-Boling Arena rain down onto the hardwood whenever the Vols are on offense, looking for a basket.
Even head coach Cuonzo Martin can be heard from the opposite side of the floor when he's adamant enough: "Jarnell! Jarnell!"
On what seems to be every possession, everybody wants the ball in one player's hands – Jarnell Stokes.
It's not hard to see why. The junior forward averages a double-double with 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He's scored in double figures in all but two of the Vols' 14 SEC games thus far and has made six or more shots in six out of the last seven games.
What is hard to see, though, is him actually getting said ball.
While the 6-foot-8, 260-pounder from Memphis, Tenn., has taken his game to a whole new level in the second half of this season, the Vols have failed to fully utilize him in some key moments. Most notably was Feb. 15 at Missouri, when Stokes went 6-of-7 but had his only field goal of the second half come with more than 17 minutes left in the game.
Martin was far from happy with Stokes' touches after that loss and promised change — joking he would even do it himself.
"We've got to get the ball to him," Martin said in his Feb. 17 press conference. "You have to do a better job of getting it inside to him.
"Even if I have to throw it into him inside myself from the sidelines."
All eyes were on Stokes — and his amount of touches — heading into last Tuesday's game versus Georgia. And in the spotlight, the attention-grabbing big man looked as dominant as ever.
The SEC's leading rebounder went 9-of-13 with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while padding his stats with three assists, three blocks and a steal.
"Dominating," UT guard Josh Richardson said when asked to describe Stokes' performance after the game.
Once again, the Vols listened to their coach — and the adamant fans. Stokes got the ball virtually every time down.
That extra attention had him feeling generous to revitalize an offense that all too often loses its flow.
"I feel like we have more fluidity on offense when I get the ball," Stokes said after beating Georgia. "I am not looking to score on three of four guys. If there is a double team, I am going to pass it to the open man. I think that is what you have to do to be a play maker."
But as the Vols struggled to pull away from Georgia late in the first half, they weren't turning to Stokes in the hopes of getting the ball back for outside shots.
They wanted to watch him do what he does best — out-muscle defenders and finish at the rim.
"I wouldn't say we were trying to get him the ball," Richardson said, "but after he scored eight straight points, why not?"
The Vols have struggled on their own to get Stokes the ball, but Martin was quick to point out that some of the problem is easily fixable for Stokes if he comes out of his comfort zone.
"It's like I told Jarnell," Martin recollected, "'sometimes you have to come off the block and get it. It might not be the deep post that you like, but come off the block. It's tough, because you have to take on that double-team that's coming, but just find guys.'"
Unselfishness is a sticking point in regards to many players, but not Stokes. Martin wants to see more of a killer instinct from his star big man, even as he tries to develop a NBA-caliber mid-range jump shot.
"He's a very unselfish player," Martin said. "I'd like for him to be more selfish, more assertive, especially around the rim because that's not his nature, just to shoot balls.
"He's a low-key kind of guy, but just be big, demand the ball, 'throw me the ball,' whatever the case may be because he's done a great job of really scoring around the rim, facing up and knocking his shots down. And again he's a very unselfish basketball player, but he has to demand it."