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Rick Barnes Not Concerned About Tennessee’s Two Losses In Two Weeks

Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball fell to Texas A&M 85-69 on Saturday night. It was the Vols’ first double-digit loss of the season and really the first game they’ve been uncompetitive in this season as they dropped to 17-6 (7-3 SEC) on the season.

The loss at Texas A&M marked Tennessee’s second loss in two weeks. Losses against South Carolina and the Aggies bookended a road win at Kentucky and a home win at LSU.

Does the 2-2 stretch worry ninth-year Tennessee coach Rick Barnes?

“No. I mean, it’s college basketball,” Barnes said. “A long way to go.”

There is a long way to go. Tennessee’s recent losses are much bigger concerns in the Vols’ race to win the regular season SEC Championship than they are in their hopes to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Barnes referenced a UConn skid last season where the Huskies lost five out of six games in late December and early January before going on to win the National Championship.

And that is the nature of college basketball. Basketball is already a sport with parity due to just five players playing at once and the erratic nature of shooting. College basketball is even crazier with inconsistency being extremely common.

Tennessee’s veteran head coach says the key is for the Vols to honestly assess their poor play and learn from their mistakes.

“It only hurts you if you don’t learn from it,” Barnes said. “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.”

There’s been two large issues that have showed up for Tennessee in the last four games. In both losses, the Vols’ offense was sporadic and struggled to find consistent success.

More From RTI: Everything Rick Barnes Said After Tennessee’s Loss At Texas A&M

The three-point shot didn’t fall in either game and they couldn’t find a consistent interior scoring threat. Jonas Aidoo struggled offensively in both games, totaling just six points in each game. And while Dalton Knecht totaled 20 points in each game, he struggled to get open looks at the basket.

Getting Aidoo back on track is a huge piece of the puzzle for Tennessee’s offense. The Vols are much more consistent on the offensive end when Aidoo is playing well.

“We need him to finish those shots,” Barnes said of Aidoo on Saturday. “We got to have him in there finishing shots. We need him to do that.”

The other shortcoming has been on the glass. LSU dominated the rebounds in Tennessee’s win on Wednesday night and Texas A&M controlled them on Saturday night.

The Aggies are the best offensive rebounding team in the country so it’s no surprise they had some success there. Despite playing a smaller lineup this season, Tennessee has mostly held up well on the glass.

Tennessee looks to bounce back from its recent losses when they travel to Fayetteville on Wednesday night to face Arkansas. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET with ESPN2 broadcasting the game.

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