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Rick Barnes: Tennessee’s Veterans ‘Extremely Disappointing’ Against Georgia Southern

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball looked like they avoided the Illinois hangover when Jonas Aidoo scored the game’s first 10 points and the Vols jumped out to a 49-21 halftime lead against Georgia Southern.

But then Tennessee came out flat after halftime. Georgia Southern outscored the Vols 35-25 in the second half. Tennessee turned the ball over 12 times in the game’s final 20 minutes while the Eagles grabbed 10 offensive rebounds.

Ninth-year Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was predictably upset with his team’s second half performance. What most frustrated Barnes in the second half?

“The play of the older players,” Barnes said. “The way they came out and started the second half, honestly, it is extremely disappointing. They should have come out the same way we started the game. … We have to know what we are going to get from those older guys for 40 minutes not just for 20 minutes.”

Junior Jonas Aidoo was brilliant against Georgia Southern, scoring 29 points on 16 shots. The Vols’ four other starters, three seniors and a junior, combined for 18 points on six-of-23 shooting from the field and accounted for 11 of Tennessee’s 19 turnovers.

Barnes was complimentary of Aidoo and what Tennessee’s underclassmen gave them in the 74-56 victory. But the play of super senior leaders Santiago Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James particularly frustrated Barnes, and for good reason.

More From RTI: Everything Rick Barnes Said After Tennessee Defeated Georgia Southern

Neither performed well and James spent the game’s final 13:55 on the bench after giving up a baseline blow by in the early in the second half.

“Those are the two guys I really count on,” Barnes said of James and Vescovi. “Talk to them about it. They weren’t ready. I don’t care who it is. If they are going to be out there, they are going to appreciate them and play. From the get-go in the second half, it just wasn’t good basketball.”

Tennessee’s second half against Georgia Southern was definitively bad basketball. At the end of the day, the lone bad performance isn’t the end of the world. The Vols had already locked up the win and it provides a teaching moment for Barnes and a reminder to his team about how small the margins truly are.

But it’s the second time in 10 games this season that Tennessee has completely laid an egg in a half. That shouldn’t happen for a team as experienced as this Tennessee squad. It especially shouldn’t happen because of the play from those veterans.

“It is disappointing,” Barnes said. “It is. I mean, at this time with as many games as our older guys have played, it is disappointing. It is because we believe in them. We have confidence, but they’ve got to do it. And we go to know every night. And again, it is not about making shots. It’s about playing good basketball.”

Tennessee played good basketball in the first half. They didn’t sustain it in the second half. The Vols continue their march through their pre-conference schedule against North Carolina State on Saturday night. They’re searching for consistency they haven’t found frequently enough with this veteran core.

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One Response

  1. The older players have been inconsistent for 4 or 5 years. Don’t know why Coach Barnes would be surprised or upset now???

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