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Barnes Talks Start Of SEC Play

49ers 17, Titans 20: Grades

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes met with the media over Zoom on Monday, two days ahead of the Vols’ SEC opener at No. 19 Alabama.

The Vols are the highest rated SEC team in KenPom and the second highest rated SEC team in this week’s AP poll heading into the conference opener with the defending SEC Champion.

“Obviously they’re an outstanding team,” Barnes said of Alabama. “Like all of us at certain times during the year, they’ve been through the ups and downs of it, but you know, when you think about it, you know what they like to do in terms of attacking the basket or the 3-point shot, and so you have to certainly know personnel as much as anything going into this game, because they’re going to work hard and get you in the rotation. Like in every game, I think rebounding is a key. But it’ll take a great effort. You think about some of their wins and how they’re capable of playing, and we know they’re explosive and can put up some numbers. They can come in flurries and we have got to do a good job on the other end of taking care of the ball and making sure we get the shots that we want.”

With COVID-19 cases across the country on the rise and plenty of college basketball teams on pause, Barnes talked about keeping his team healthy and playing games with players out.

“If you have enough guys—that number is probably seven or eight—that you can play a game, I think you should go play,” Barnes said. “I think it speaks volumes to your team when you know that, ‘hey yeah, we might not ever full deck with us, but we believe in you guys, you’re on scholarship and so we will always try with everything that we do to go play a game, whether it’s here or on the road. That’s how we feel about it. I just think that if you have enough, I think you owe it to everybody involved to do the right thing, for one people that bought tickets for the games. I’ve seen enough in my lifetime in this sport to know that anything can happen during a basketball game. But it goes back, mainly to the fact that if you have enough, you owe it to them to go play.”

The seventh-year Tennessee coach also discussed Olivier Nkamhoua and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, the Vols’ rebounding against Arizona and how the non-conference slate prepared them for SEC play.


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