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Everything Rick Barnes said following Tennessee’s loss to Alabama

Vols head basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the media following No. 7 Tennessee’s first loss of the season, a 71-63 defeat to Alabama on Saturday night inside of Thompson-Boling Arena.

Barnes discussed why the Vols struggled on offense against the Crimson Tide, explained the technical foul he received, what changes to the lineup will need to be made if Jaden Springer has to miss time, the performance of Santiago Vescovi and if he felt like his team prepared well.

Here’s everything Barnes said following Tennessee’s first loss of the season:

On the performance of Tennessee’s offense against Alabama:

“They did exactly what we thought they would do. Get Fulky out there and get matchups with him there where we knew they were going to try to drive and make him play defense. We knew that was going to happen. Offensively, he never established what we needed to get done. We got the ball there, but he went three-for-eight from the free throw line. That is tough when you got a guy, you’re counting on to give you something around the rim or get you there. I thought Josiah tried to do what he needed to do. At the end we had to just get a group of guys out there that we felt could guard, because we did not do a very good job of that. With all that said and done, offensively we were terrible to start the game. We turned the ball over three times to start it, travel calls, falling over ourselves. Santi gets stripped but give Alabama all the credit. There was nothing that they did that we didn’t talk about for a couple of days and what we needed to do. We didn’t stop it. We knew they would shoot threes. In the second half they shot 8-of-11. Our offense was terrible. Again, give them credit for that. I thought Yves not being in the game really hurt us. I thought that was a big thing, because he’s a difference maker out there. He had a couple of tough calls that went against him, but I really thought he made good plays. Jaden would thrive in a game like this and him not being there—even with all that said and done at the end of the game, if we had taken care of the ball and made a couple of shots, we had a chance. They were missing their free throws and gave us a chance, but we didn’t get it done. You have to give them credit, they came in and had a plan, they worked it better than we worked ours.”

On the technical foul he received:

“Santi was guarding the ball and the way our defensive was set up, they called a foul and we thought it was on Keon. It was off the ball. We were surprised when we found out that it was Santi because we thought it was Keon’s foul. They were sure and they didn’t know what we were talking about. I asked one of the referees to ask the referee that made the call if it was an on-ball foul or an off-ball foul. He said it was an off-ball foul, which is correctable. There’s four minutes to go in the half, Santi has to leave the game. That’s something they can go check. They can do that. They chose not to do it and I kept asking ‘what are you doing?’ The referee that made the call was on the baseline, he told the other referee it was an off-ball foul, if it’s an off-ball foul it was on Keon, and then he came down and we talked and I asked him, ‘why didn’t you check the foul?’ and he said that it was an on-ball foul. Well you just told your other referee partner that it was an off-ball foul and he said I didn’t. The other referee said yes you did and then he said I guess I used the wrong verbiage. We were talking about it; I don’t know why you came down. Those two guys I was talking to were great. I said ‘Hey, I get that’ and then we get a technical foul. I don’t know why a guy 50 feet from the conversation is over the two other officials but that’s what happened. We were just trying to clear that up and then he finally said I used the wrong verbiage. If that’s what he did, that’s what he did.”

On if he has ever received a technical foul from 40-feet away:

“No, the guys that were in the conversation understood it was big and they were calm, they were good with it. Maybe I was too animated, I don’t know. That’s a big play. If the foul is wrong, they could have gone to check it. When he was on the baseline, he said it was an off-ball foul. If it’s an off-ball foul, Santi should have been able to get back in the game. We had to keep playing until there was a stoppage and then he said I used the wrong verbiage. I believe him, I have no reason not to believe him but that’s not what was communicated to us and I was just trying to figure out if it was on the ball or off the ball. When he first came up, he said I didn’t say off ball, but he did say off ball to his other partner. That’s what I based it on. If it was off the ball, go fix it and Santi comes back in the game but I don’t understand why someone that far away would do that, I don’t.”

On what changes need to be made on offense if Jaden Springer has to miss time:

“I am going to look hard at it. I may change the lineup, do some things. Even John Fulkerson. As far as I’m concerned guys can take his minutes. He’s been around long enough; he’s got to bring more than he brought today. He’s got to do it. I thought Yves was locked in trying to do it. We had to do some things today that we haven’t gotten to practice a lot because of the foul situation we were in. I don’t want to take away from Alabama, they played terrific. They did what they wanted to do. With all that said done, we had chances at the end if we could have just executed in the last three minutes.”

On Jaden Springer’s injury:

“No, I’m not sure. I’ll find out when we walk back there in a bit.”

On Tennessee’s defense when Yves Pons isn’t on the court:

“I think in a game like this or any game there are some times when you can throw out the scouting report. Guys just have to buck up and in a situation like this when they want to run a spread game as well as pick on guys that in some point in time you cannot get beat off the bounce. We can’t tackle somebody and keep them from shooting the ball, but we have to make them shoot as difficult of a shot as we can and we didn’t do a good enough job of that with guys we know that can stay in front of the ball. I told the coaches during the game, ‘this is good for us,’ and everything we have talked about during the last two weeks we haven’t gotten it done the way we needed to. When you play against a team like Alabama, you know you will have to guard the three-point line and you know they can be capable of getting it going. They got us in our rotations, whether it was getting beat off the bounce or post guys getting beat. We didn’t deserve to win and they did.”

On Tennessee having seven assists to nine turnovers:

“Offensively you can’t get assists if you don’t make shots, especially when you go 21-for-66 and some of them are off the pass. We had some good looks at it from the three, but again with Santi driving in and getting a couple of shots blocked – what he was doing a year ago – those kind of plays we just can’t do. With our offense in the end of the shot clock at three seconds, or giving up a back cut as well as and-one plays. So many plays like that you can think about, and when you’re not playing well offensively, you can’t help them defensively in special situations like that when you’re shooting the ball. They got comfortable, there’s no doubt they got some rhythm going and I don’t think we ever got it going and give them credit for that. We never got to play Yves and John a lot together because of Yves’ foul situation, or the fact that John couldn’t guard anybody.”

On what he thought about Tennessee’s shot selection:

“I think we rushed, and I don’t think we got in our flow. We came down the court and had some advantages and we didn’t pass the ball. Guys got sped up and everyone looked like they wanted to try and do it themselves. When you’re counting on guys like John Fulkerson and Yves Pons to be a big part of what you do and they aren’t out there, we don’t get to establish how we really want to play. Jaden wasn’t out there, and he has become a big part of what we want to do. We just weren’t good and we got exactly what we deserved.”

On what went wrong during Alabama’s stretch of five consecutive threes, and if he felt like Tennessee did a poor job of over-helping or switching:

“We adjusted to that, and we got to where we were not going to over-help. They run what we call blurred screens and they do it 90 percent of the time. We had a couple of guys that we were concerned about that we get messed up in that and it happened. We adjusted to where we wanted them to play off the bounce. We wanted them to stay back and the guy on the ball to be raised to be able to contest the three, and we would live with that. What we didn’t want was driving and kicking out. The offensive rebounds hurt us at critical times too, it really did. Give them credit and I don’t want to take anything away from them. We have to get a lot better.”

On what he thought of Santiago Vescovi’s performance:

“You go back and look at his line tonight – Santi played 33 minutes, went 5-for-15 in field goals, three-for-eight in threes, had four rebounds, one assist and one turnover. With him at point guard, he has to do more than that. My place with him is he has to stop driving in to the basket and thinking he is going to shoot an underhand layup. I told him at the end of the game that we had a play where he has to go get the ball—he let Keon have the ball—Keon came down and lost the ball, and that is on him as a point guard. We talked about it and it’s like being a quarterback. He has to run the team at the point in time, so the discussion we were talking about is the one we were having.”

On how he thought Tennessee prepared entering the game:

“If they are overconfident, it is over with now. I don’t know if they were or weren’t. With our preparation, we prepped, and our guys did a good job. We talked about what we need to get done, but the bottom line is, we didn’t execute. You guys know, I didn’t hear Dabo Swinney last night, but I guarantee he is saying the same thing in which we had a plan, we worked on the plan, the preparation was good, but we didn’t get it done. You have to give them credit because they had a plan, they worked on it, and they got done what they needed to get done. It’s not hard to figure out. One team got it done and one team didn’t.”

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