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Everything Rick Barnes Said After Tennessee Lost At Texas A&M

Rick Barnes
Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball fell at Texas A&M 85-69 on Saturday night as the Aggies earned a wire-to-wire victory in College Station.

Texas A&M used early offensive success to take control of the game early and leaned on its defense to coast to the victory.

Following the loss, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes discussed the Vols’ defensive issues, what went wrong offensively and much more.

More From RTI: Three Quick Takeaways On Tennessee Basketball’s Loss At Texas A&M

On if Tennessee was surprised by how well Texas A&M shot 

“No. I don’t think it was the 3-point shots. We know the teams are capable at times of shooting the ball and it was more one-on-one individual play. When you look at what, I mean, I thought (Tyrece Radford) was terrific. I thought him getting to the rim and they were just picking some matchups that they wanted to play some isolation basketball and they made some good shots, they did do that. And defensively, I don’t think we obviously did a great job when two key guys got their average plus and did a really good job moving the ball. You look at seven assists, two turnovers, five and two. And offensively, we had some shots that you’d like to think that we would make, but when you get behind, you got to change and do some things that gets you a little bit out of kilter. But I give them all the credit and. They deserve it. They won the game.”

On what was Tennessee’s defensive letdowns in the first half

“Probably more one-on-one. We knew again, Wade (Taylor IV) can make some shots, which he did in the first half. And we had some looks, but they didn’t go down. And it still got back to one-on-one. And we talked about how hard we’re going to work to keep them from us getting too spread out and letting them get downhill with it. And they, again, they were willful drivers and they did a good job finishing around the rim.”

On Texas A&M switching defensively and it giving Tennessee’s guards trouble

“They were going to switch and keep moving around it there, who they wanted to get into a matchup, they were obviously, there’s no doubt they felt like they wanted to go at Dalton. And at the end of the shot clock, whatever matchup they had, they were going to try to drive. And I thought we opened up our hips too much, and it’s something we talked about and didn’t executed the way we needed to. And we got to be better off. You can’t be as, I think we missed what, three or four, two-shot fouls. Those are turnovers. And when you’re behind like that, you’re trying to get back in the game. You’ve got to capitalize when you’re not having a particularly great night. And we have some great looks. I mean, we have some looks that we’ve been shooting all year and got continue to shoot. But you’re not making them. I thought, Jahmai came in the second half and really brought some energy on the glass a little bit. But I think you got to give a lot of credit to Andersson Garcia too. I mean, he is a great offensive rebounder and again, 17 rebounds. And we didn’t do a good job there at all.”

On if he feels the issues they had against Texas A&M were similar to South Carolina in terms of pace of play

“No. I don’t know that. I’ll know more after I’ve watched the tape a little bit, but again we got to get more out of our front line. We got to do that. No doubt about it. But when you get— we got ourselves in a hole, and again, they add a lot to do with that. But we just never seemed like we were in sync and playing the way we want to play. And when you look at the guys, and you guys have seen, we’ve had games where Santi struggled, one-for-six. Zakai— (we) put too much on him.  He went the distance and I kept asking him, I said, ‘do you need me to give you a blow?’ He said, ‘no, I’m not coming out.’ We need more guys like that really. I mean, he just wants to win. Whatever it takes, he wants to do it. But Dalton, you look at his numbers, they look good, but for a guy that can score like he can, you can’t go— what was it from the free throw line? Four-for-nine and miss two two shot fouls.”

On what Jonas Aidoo isn’t giving them

“We need him to finish those shots. We got to have him in there finishing shots. We need him to do that. We need Tobe to do it. We got to get something from those guys.”

On if he’s surprised there aren’t more guys with Zakai’s mindset

“Well, I mean, he’s one of a kind. I’ll tell you, I’ve done this a long time and you haven’t had a lot of guys like that. I mean, it’s just who he is. It’s his DNA and it’s everything about him. And I’ve said from the beginning, the biggest thing he’s done since he’s been at Tennessee is his DNA. And from the first day he walked on campus, it affected everybody.”

On the impact of Dalton Knecht’s foul trouble

“I don’t know how much it did, because you know what? He still was— they were going at him. It’ll be interesting to see when we break it down from our point of view, you know, we grade it out, how much one-on-one that he gave up. And you’ve got to be able to guard your area, but you just can’t open up and let people get to a rim. And we did that way too much.”

On if Texas A&M looks like a tournament team

“No doubt. I think we got 10 right now, 10, 11 teams that when it’s all said and done are NCAA teams. I think we got the best basketball league in the country. AndI don’t think it’s close. I don’t care what anybody says. Right now the SEC’s the best basketball league in the country and every league’s tough. It is, every league is tough, but, like I said, there’s a case for nine or 10 teams right now, and there’s a lot of basketball at the place. It’ll work out. It’ll show itself in the end. But there’s no doubt right now that’s what my thoughts are.”

On what went wrong offensively

“We need to pass the ball. We need to make shots. We’re gonna shoot the ball. We think we’re a good shooting team, but we gotta make some shots. But that’s not — you look at it, they ended up making what, two more three’s. That’s not what the difference in the game was. The difference in the game was, we did a poor job at the free throw line and they might could say the same thing, but there’s extra possessions. I mean, think about it, nine offensive rebounds, that’s nine more possessions (that) they (could) score from it. I mean, right there in itself says a lot. I mean, we came up with 14 and we ended up with 12, but when we were trying to get back in it, it’s those extra possessions they got that hurt us.”

On the atmosphere in Reed Arena

“It was fine. I mean I’ve been here a lot and I don’t think it’s overwhelming if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t think there’s many arenas in the country that I would say are overwhelming. I’ve got a lot of respect for A&M, coming (over here) a lot obviously, but I think someone should teach ’em about overrated because I think it takes away from your win. They’re a good basketball team. When you start chanting overrated, you’re diminishing the fact that their team just played a heck of a basketball game and beat a good team. If we’re overrated, what does that say about their team? But they’ve been doing that for, how long ago I’ve been coming here? 25 years. So, maybe you should write it and tell them.”

On if he has any concerns about his team with these type of performances

“No. I mean, it’s college basketball. A long way to go. I tell everybody, you go back a year ago, the team that won the national championship went through a five game skid this time of year and got it going at the right time. And it only hurts you if you don’t learn from it. And if you don’t respond from it. You look at it and can be honest with yourself individually. And we as coaches, we break down what we didn’t do a good job with. And I think we got a program that’s transparent with each other. We’ll talk about that, but still, you look at it, we got it down to 12 and plenty of time, but couldn’t move the needle past that.”

On Jahmai Mashack and Dalton Knecht being in-and-out of the lineup throughout the night

“Dalton had four fouls. And at the end when we were gonna start fouling, we wanted him to stay in the game, obviously, and shoot the ball. We were looking to foul. And we didn’t do a good job in that situation. We had a chance to foul the person that we wanted to foul twice and we didn’t do it. And that’s where, you know, we, again, we’ll learn from that situation, but every game you go out, you’re going to have a chance to learn something. And the question is, after you learn it, will you continue to make that mistake? And I don’t think we will, but it gets down to the situational place in there at the end. That’s why we were moving them in and out.”

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