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Barnes Previews Road Trip To Baton Rouge

Alabama Tops Florida On The Road

Tennessee heads on the road Saturday, traveling to Baton Rouge to face No. 21 LSU.

Vols’ head coach Rick Barnes met with the media over Zoom Friday ahead of his team’s fifth top 25 matchup of the season. Tennessee is currently 2-2 this season against ranked teams, winning 1-2 neutral site games and its only home matchup.

Barnes discussed the common themes of Tennessee’s offense in the games that it has struggled this season and the difference in his team’s performance in ugly games against Ole Miss and Texas Tech.

“They happen with everybody,” Barnes said of bad shooting nights. “You can’t coach making shots. You can’t. What you can coach is getting guys to take rhythm shots, shots they practice, but the takeaway is what we’ve told our guys since day one. If we play defense at the level we’re capable of and if we rebound we’ll have a chance. Even when you can’t make a shot. … The difference in those two games was no question the reaction of our players. If you could look into the eyes of Santi, Zakai or Olivier — we said after the game. What he was able to do and the way he was talking in the huddle, and Josiah, those guys had the look like we’re not going to lose this game. We’re going to find a way, someway, it may not be the prettiest way.”

The challenge for Tennessee’s offense gets even greater when they face LSU and KenPom’s top defense.

Barnes noted that LSU does similar things that Texas Tech did — including switching all ball screens — and that the key against an elite defensive team is to take care of the basketball and get to the free throw line.

The seventh-year head coach also discussed John Fulkerson sitting on the bench at the end of the Ole Miss’ game, Zakai Zeigler’s growth and more.

Tennessee and LSU tip-off from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 6 p.m. ET Saturday night. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.

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