Tennessee dropped its first conference game Saturday as Kentucky upset the fifth-ranked Vols, 63-56, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Rebounding and offense plagued the Vols against Kentucky as the Wildcats handed Tennessee its third loss of the season.
Here’s everything Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said following the loss.
More From RTI: Three Quick Takeaways On Tennessee’s Loss To Kentucky
On Tennessee’s offense against Kentucky
“We had some opportunities early. I thought their game plan obviously, every game, not just this game, people really work hard to try to take away our perimeter players. We missed a lot of shots at the rim. Some of them uncontested, a couple of them mildly contested. But the fact is, we had some looks that we didn’t make. Inside, I thought Uros (Plavsic) really did as good of a job as he could possibly do. We’ve got to more consistency from a couple guys and they need to give it to us every night. Our play wasn’t what we know it needs to be. I thought we let a little bit of the offense affect us. But the difference in the game was the rebounding. I mean, they did whatever they wanted to do on the boards. You look at what they shot from the floor and the 3-point line, that’s good enough to win most games. But you can’t foul people as much as we fouled. And we’ve talked about that for weeks now. We’ve got to stop committing fouls and make people play. We gave them too many points there. Got to give (Kentucky) credit. I thought they played hard. They had guys come in, they were making adjustments with their lineup, they did. Got to have better play with our guards, our perimeter guys. A little bit more consistency with our post guys inside.”
On if he was surprised to see this Tennessee team get nearly doubled in rebound numbers
“It goes back to what I said to you guys before. We still have too many guys that think offense, as opposed to understanding the role they have on the team. Give (Kentucky) credit. They came in and that was obviously a big part of their game plan. They look at those numbers just like everybody. They’re going to say we’re not going to get beat on the boards. And they thoroughly beat us on the backboard. And we turned it over, way too many in the first half. Just turnovers you can’t have when we maybe had a chance to get a little rhythm first half and broke down. They had a couple different guys in the first half that carried them. Second half, they had more than (Oscar) Tshiebwe carrying them. Just give them credit. There’s obviously a lot of things I’m disappointed with our guys. But you have to give Kentucky all the credit in the world. Coming off obviously a tough loss and they won the game. They won it.”
On how to explain Tennessee’s missed layups
“I don’t know if you can. But Zakai did not practice for two days leading up to the game. That might have had something to do with it with his. But at the end of the game, you can’t go in there looking for (a foul) you have to finish the play. Even at the end when we got the rebound, Uros tried to force that back up. We really needed a three right there. We had a chance to kick it out and we didn’t. Again, not really happy with the execution coming down the end. We called a couple plays where wanted certain shots and guys weren’t taking those shots. You have to execute the play at that point in time. I can’t answer that question. The ones that are point-blank layups, you’ve got to make. In games like this, you have to make uncontested layups.”
On the rebounding struggles
“Guys understanding what their job is. Going into games with the right mindset. Not letting the fact that you missed a shot or you charge, doing something you shouldn’t do. You’ve got to do your job. Looking at this, Olivier had three fouls. He only played 13 minutes. He has to be out there more. He didn’t seem to be in it today. Uros had three rebounds. Even though he had a good night scoring the ball. Our guards. Jonas had four. Tobe had one. Our frontline has to do a better job rebounding. I think Tshiebwe outrebounded our whole front line. I’m not sure right now. We have to get out frontline guys doing their job on the glass. That is not just four and fives. That is the wings, too. I think defensively, we have to get all five guys involved and we weren’t very good at that tonight.”
On not calling a timeout down three late
“We had plays on. We don’t have to call a timeout to run a play. We have practiced for about 100 practices. We shouldn’t have to call a timeout. We were going to use it when we scored to stop the clock. We thought we could pressure them there. We didn’t execute the play. We didn’t get the shot that we wanted. It was there, but we didn’t take it. Again, we work on situations. We spent a lot of time talking about situations and those deals. We didn’t execute.”
On Uros Plavsic performance and the battle down low
“He was getting deep post-up down there and those guys battled. Kentucky did what most people do. They tried to take away the perimeter guys and let us score in there. Whether it is throwing it into him or the layups, spread them out and we had drivers to the rim. We couldn’t capitalize on it. But Uros, I thought he played as hard as he could play.”