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Tennessee HC Rick Barnes Previews Tarleton State Matchup in Knoxville

Rick Barnes
Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes. Photo via Tennessee broadcast.

The Vols’ pre-Christmas showdown this year will be against the Tarleton State Texans on Thursday night in Knoxville.

No. 8 Tennessee will host Tarleton State at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday in the Food City Center.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes met with the media ahead of the game on Tuesday and spoke about several different players on the Vols’ roster. Barnes spoke about Dalton Knecht’s struggles against NC State on Saturday, Jordan Gainey’s recent play, what Tobe Awaka can do to be more effective on the offensive side of the court, and what has allowed Josiah-Jordan James to be so effective for Tennessee this season.

“It’s been his consistency, has been the best amongst our team,” Barnes said about James. “And when you think about it, he had his best offseason that he’s had since he’s been here, and I think it’s certainly showing up right now. And it’s what we really, I think, what he expects from himself and what we expected from him. And we need him to continue to do that and continue to lead and help bring these young guys along with him.”

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The Texans are coached by Billy Gillispie, who has a history with Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes. Gillispie was the head coach at Texas A&M from 2004 to 2007 while Barnes was coaching the rival Texas Longhorns. Barnes’ Longhorns won the Big 12 regular season championship one time (2005-2006) during Gillispie’s three years in College Station.

“You know, he did a great job at A&M,” Barnes said about Gillispie. “When he went to A&M they really, first time probably, they made a real commitment to basketball and he did a great job there building it. And obviously moving on to Kentucky, from meeting Billy when he was on Bill Self’s staff and through the years, he’s a terrific basketball coach. Every time I think of him is kind of what I said, you know you’re in for a fight. I don’t care where he is, what he does. That’s his personality, that’s who he is, and he has a great way of getting that across to his players.”

Gillispie was also the head coach at Texas Tech from 2011-2012, another Big 12 foe of the Longhorns while Barnes was at Texas.

Check out the full press conference from Rick Barnes in Knoxville on Tuesday below:

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