Tennessee 81, Georgia Tech 58
“You have got to give Tennessee credit. They played with more energy than we did and I’m disappointed about that because we pride ourselves in being an energetic team and we didn’t do that today. I thought we were on our heels. I take responsibility. I need to look at what could I have done better, maybe in the preparation or whatever it may have been. Our mentality has been attack, attack, attack, and we played really passive today, so I was disappointed in our energy level. Again, that falls on my shoulders. Hopefully we can analyze and examine some things and decide what we need to do to get better at that.”
On Justin Moore’s absence from the game
“I think it hurts us not having Justin Moore obviously. He’s one of our most energized guys, our most vocal guy. We are limited at the guard spot as it is but that’s not an excuse. The next man up has got to step up. We had some of our main rotation guys didn’t play as well as we needed them to play today and when you’re in that situation, with the limitations we already are in with the margin of zero, it’s a bad recipe.”
On low post play
“I thought they were the aggressor. We got to the paint but we were very off-balance. I thought their athleticism bothered us in some areas. We would get into the paint and just throw up a hook shot and hope. That's a bad strategy. Like I’ve said before, we’ve worked on layups as much as any team in the country, if not more. When you go up against this great athleticism you have to have great balance and I always talk about it that you have to vertically and violently attack the rim. You can’t just go up there with a hope strategy. We just didn’t do that today.”
On the current three game road trip for his young team
“Well, two parts to that. We are the least experienced team in college basketball so this three-game road trip is more scheduled for a veteran team, not usually in a straight rebuild situation or in a situation as inexperienced as we are. Hopefully through the stretch we learn the areas we can get better at because this is who we are playing in the ACC. We are going to have to be able to compete and just find a way. It’s going to be good preparation for us in terms of leading up to where we are at when it comes to ACC play.”
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH RICK BARNES
On the defense “The majority of our time coming back from Maui was doing just that. We think that we got a chance. It has to be who we are. Defensively, when we’re in games every night and maybe when we aren’t playing as well offensively, we’re still out there. But, I thought we took a bigger step with guarding their motion and doing the things that they do. They run a really good offense, constant movement, so you have to stay on edge. But, what we told our guys at halftime was we’re not there yet. We’d given up nine to ten offensive rebounds that turned into three of their three-point plays where a couple of post guys didn’t go get it, but more importantly, our guards didn’t finish it. Overall, we continue to build on it. That has to be the staple of who we are.”
On whether Shembari Phillips separated himself from the rest of the team
“I thought Shembari did a really good job today. You go back to a year ago and he had never played the point. He’s getting more and more comfortable with it and he still would probably rather be off the ball but he’s good at it. He’s starting to understand his looks and he’s starting to handle pressure better when people do it. When you look at his lines, seven assists and one turnover, I thought he had a great day today.
“I thought Lew Evans, we’re all happy for him, is a great example of just staying with it and grinding. It’s a long way to go and Lew has struggled up to this point, but he was really sharp today, especially with our scouting report and the way he worked the scouting report.
“Grant went inside and scored. John Fulkerson does what he does. You look at his line: he has eight to nine rebounds every night. He goes and comes up with those rebounds and makes balls loose that way. We still have things we have to do to get better, and those minutes, they realized they were very valuable.
“As a coaching staff, we thought the play of the game was Kwe Parker in the last fifteen to twenty seconds when they were diving on the floor because all we keep talking about is we have to learn to play forty minutes. When you come off the bench, to come off the bench and play that many minutes and you do that, is where we want to be as a team overall.”
On starting strong in both the first and second halves
“Well, what we realized going to Maui, we have a lot of confidence in our man offense. We think that we have a lot of things we can do out of it. Over in Maui, playing against terrific teams, they didn’t want to guard the man. We struggled against the zone, and that’s my fault, because we hadn’t spent enough time with our zone offense. But the last week, we did. We were really good today against the zone. We got some execution, and they’re a difficult team too in the fact that they’re changing. They’ll go from a one-three-one to a two-three right in the middle of a possession. They make you recognize. You have to be able to recognize things.
“I thought in the first half, Shembari and Lew were really good. Grant is good in those situations where they help our guards recognize what’s going on. We still--at the end of the clock situations whether it was getting driven by or we’re not rebounding--we’ve got to get better there.”
On being able to work the ball in the post, as opposed to relying on Robert Hubbs III last year
“It’s big. It’s huge. Lew will score a different way down there. We think we can throw it too. Admiral’s a guy that can turn faces and score down there. Grant can. Grant turned it over holding the ball too long. He can’t hold the ball as long as he did and just keep backing up. What we teach those guys is to get down low and two quick dribbles. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it. You have got to move on to the next play. Grant and Fulkerson can score down there. Obviously, Robert’s done that. Kyle has got a game down there where he can do it. But, we still have to develop that more. We still missed some opportunities early, where we could’ve gotten it in a little bit more, but it’s a big difference because a year ago, we didn’t have the ability to do that.”