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Everything Rick Barnes Said After Win Against Tennessee Tech

Below is Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes' full transcript after the Vols' win over the Golden Eagles.
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Despite losing 35-34 at halftime and having an abysmal shooting performance beyond the arc in the first half, the Vols rebounded to beat the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 80-69.

Head coach Rick Barnes noted his team has a long way to go in the post-game press conference but also said there are plenty of positives to be taken away from the win.

Barnes' full transcript from the post-game press conference is below.

On what went wrong for the first 25 minutes of the game and then what went right afterwards...

“Well, first of all, that's not take anything away from Tennessee Tech. I thought John Pelphrey has done a great job building that program. I do think that. They have guys that stayed together. They've improved. I don't want to take anything away from them because they certainly outplayed us. From our perspective, not real happy at all. This game normally gives you what you put into it, and the preparation with some of our younger guys yesterday wasn't what it needed to be. It showed up here in the first half, but with that said, in the long run it was probably a better thing for us because we're going to be in many more games where it's going to be close. We're going to have to really fight for it. As opposed to where I think these type games people expect to win by a large number. That's why we've always tried to schedule in our buy games teams that we know that are well-coached and are going to really compete. We want to get a lot out of it. We definitely got a lot out of this game. We learned a lot about ourselves, some of it not so good. Overall, the way we responded when we had to was a good thing. Our guards will have to realize that our post guys can play a little bit. In the flow of the game, they're going to have to learn how to get them involved as opposed to continue to go down the lane, get shots blocked and throw up tough shots. I mean, today if you look at the stat sheet, almost every time those guys touched the ball, we had to call their number. Our guards are going to have to see that in our flow was well.“Again, I can't say enough about John Pelphrey. I've known John for a long time. He's one of the great guys in our business, and I'm glad to see what he's building. I've said before, this state has great basketball, and he's going to do a great job. They’re fortunate to have him there. They gave us all we wanted and more, and you got to give them a lot of credit for it.”

On the production from Brandon Huntley-Hatfield in the second half...

“I think Brandon's learning more and more each day about what it takes to compete at this level and starting to really build his game. Without doubt, for him, he was better defensively, getting into a stance and staying in it. I even heard him talking today out there understanding our system defensively. As he continues to understand what he's going to have to do to score at this level, he's going to do it because he works. He wants to be good at it. Like anybody that should still be in high school, how far he's come has been tremendous. He would tell you, above everyone else, he's got a long way to go. In the last couple of weeks, I think he's starting to see college basketball in a different light. For the most part today, he fought hard to get the ball where he wanted it.”

On an update on Josiah-Jordan James...

“This is really a day-to-day thing with him. I can never say enough good things about Josiah and what he's meant to our program. He's had as tough of luck as anybody that you can imagine. This just came out of nowhere where with the finger, but it's day-to-day. He's such a great leader. He'll stay engaged, and he'll know when he thinks he can do what he needs to do with it.”

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On if it feels like this is Zakai Zeigler’s fifth game...

“He has matured. I thought both he and Kennedy Chandler today came back from having good games up in Connecticut. Every game has a different personality. They tried to do too much there at the end of the game. We just kept dribbling and dribbling. He had a chance to throw the ball to (Santiago Vescovi) with no pressure. (Olivier Nkamhoua) tried pick it up and tried to dribble the ball out there. Those aren't smart plays, but it's also guys that haven't been in games of this magnitude. Zakai is very mature and again, like Santi, the two most consistent guys day in and day out. Practicing the way you want to see them do it. Both of them are very competitive. We just need to get more guys doing it.”

On Santiago’s progression in games when he’s not shooting well but is still contributing...

“He’s become a complete player, and I think he's one of the most underrated guards in the country right now. I do. I think if you go back and look at what he what he does night in and night out. Didn't have a good shooting night tonight. He's capable. I mean, there'll be nights where he won't miss, but he's learned how to impact the game in different ways. He’s just become a very mentally tough and hard- nosed, in terms of he’s going fight you defensively for every bounce. He works at it and is smart andcerebral on both ends of the court. The game normally gives you what you put into it. What he puts into it on the day even when he doesn't shoot the ball well, he has a big impact on it. It all stems right back to his work ethic.”

Photo Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel

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