Everything Rick Barnes Said As Tennessee Drops A Tight One At Texas A&M

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Rick BarnesTennessee HC Rick Barnes. Photo by Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee dropped its fifth game in seven tries in February as the undermanned Vols lost 68-63 at Texas A&M Tuesday night.

The Vols jumped out to a 9-0 lead out the gates but Texas A&M tied the game up at halftime and took control early in the second half. It looked like the Aggies might run away with the game but Tennessee fought back and make the game tight.

Here’s everything Rick Barnes said after another frustrating narrow loss.

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

On Jonas Aidoo getting in early foul trouble after having six points and five rebounds in the first eight minutes 

“It was difficult because you look at it, I think we pretty much went the distance with eight guys basically getting some minutes. Really proud of the effort from the guys. They fought. I think Olivier played the most minutes he’s played since he’s been at Tennessee. But yeah, we needed Jonas out there. Tobe I thought went out there and did some really good things for us. A lot of guys did. We fought. I’ll tell you what I told the team. We’ve just got to stop fouling 3-point shooters. We keep talking about it, talking about it, talking about it. We have a competitive group of guys, but they’ve got to understand they’re not going to keep players from getting the shot off. Plays like that have to stop. I mean, we gave them five points right there. And they’re a team that gets to the foul line anyway. We’ve got to stop making those plays. We’ve talked about it, talked about it, talked about it. We’ve got to stop.”

On coaching through a game with as many fouls as the Texas A&M game had

“It’s tough but it was probably a good thing for us because it gave us some extra time to rest some guys. From that point it probably helped us a little bit tonight because we shortened our rotation so from that point it might have helped us a little bit. Just proud, again Santi hasn’t practiced, you guys saw it, he hasn’t practiced the last couple days and came into shootaround and really mentally tried to get done what he needed to get done. I’m really proud of Olivier fighting through playing the most minutes in a physical game against good players inside. Just continuing to battle and play.”

On his vantage point of Texas A&M getting a timeout during a scuffle for the ball late

“Well they said he hadn’t fouled. My only concern was a timeout was called from way down on the bench. I don’t think that’s allowed in a scrum scenario like that. But if the officials saw that they had the ball then it’s obviously the right call. It’s been a long time coming since I’ve seen a coach, referee call a timeout when they (coach) are 50 feet from the play in a scrum. But if he saw it, he saw it. He’s a terrific official and if he saw it he did the right thing.”

On if Julian Phillips and Josiah-Jordan James are close to returning

“It’s on them. I have to believe they are doing everything they can to get back. I believe that. I have to believe it with all my heart because they’re competitive. They want to play but, again, no one is working any harder than what (trainer) Chad (Newman) and (strength coach) Garrett (Medenwald) are. They’re doing what we ask them to do but we don’t want them to play unless they’re healthy.”

On if he worries about the effort dwindling as losses mount

“No. Not at all. We’re going to find a way. I’ve seen a lot of things in my career. I’ve seen teams that struggle like we have here. Some of it too, you go back and look and we’ve played against teams— this is a great atmosphere here. But again, I thought our guys handled all of that. We’ve got some guys, some guys that we’ve been playing with, they have great character. They’re going to fight. We’re not going to be perfect. Zakai, he knows how valuable he is to our team but we need everybody. We need everybody that’s out there playing to take shots. We still feel like Tyreke needs to shoot the ball more. We feel like he’s turning down shots. We’re begging those guys to take those shots. Tonight, I thought our guys did a great job with the shot fake and getting into gaps because we had a lot of wide open shots and, again, I don’t have a problem with the number of threes, when we get great looks at it we have to let it go and believe that when we shoot it and get the rhythm going we’ll make our share of them and if not we’ll go rebound the ball.”

On the shot selection in the final minute 

“Olivier’s, I mean, I think he got a little caught up in the moment there. I think if he’s balanced, Olivier can shoot the ball. Zakai had some different some options coming down the floor that he can look at, what he can do there. But you know, in that moment, they’ve got to make plays. We have some organization with it, with what we’re trying to do. But again, those are tough situations to be in. But again, that’s not what cost us the game, those last two shots. If you asked me one thing in particular, I would just say as much as we talked about not fouling 3-point shooters, we gave them five points fouling 3-point shooters.”

On how to keep Zakai Zeigler from pressing and trying to do too much 

“I thought early, I thought his turnovers, he was trying too hard to get guys involved, where I thought he turned down some shots early. He’s caught in the middle right now where he really is trying to get guys involved, doing some things. But we’ve had so many different lineups we’ve had to go with throughout the year, where we haven’t been able to get the rhythm we like to have. But the fact is, Z, he’s fine. He’s competitive. Wouldn’t trade him for anybody because we know how much he cares. And when he’s struggling with certain things, his thought process is I’m going to fix it right now. Which sometimes it can compound and work against him. But he’s gotten so much better at understanding the things now. The shot-clock violations, that can’t happen. That’s not just him. That’s everybody and we talk about that. The bench is talking about the things and we’re talking to them. But I will tell you, every one of those shot-clock violations, shots were there to be had before we got to that situation and some players didn’t take it.”

Author: Ethan Moore