Barnes: UT Vols must 'move forward' after wins, too

Barnes: UT Vols must 'move forward' after wins, too

January 26th, 2016 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

South Carolina forward Eric Cobb (23) looks to shoot as he's pressured by Tennessee forward Armani Moore (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Photo by Wade Payne

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee responded to its worst loss of the men's basketball season with its biggest win.

That didn't drastically alter the tone and message Rick Barnes had for his team in the video session reviewing Saturday's home victory against then-No. 24 South Carolina.

It was easy for the Volunteers to crank up their level of play after the disappointing performance against Vanderbilt, but now Tennessee will try to respond similarly and build off that win tonight at Alabama.

"That can go either way," senior guard/forward Armani Moore said Monday. "Obviously once you win a game you feel like you should carry that over. But I think once you lose a game, it kind of upsets you and kind of gives you this hunger that you want to go out and win the (next) game as well.

"I think for us, we've just got to develop a level of consistency. I don't think we have had one time this year where we at least won two or three games in a row. That's our goal here in the next couple of weeks, to at least try to get on a winning streak and get something started here."

Tennessee's lone three-game win streak this season was in November against Marshall, Gardner-Webb and Army, and to match that the Vols will have to win road games this week against Alabama and TCU.

Against the Gamecocks the Vols were motivated by a marathon video session of the Vanderbilt loss that barely passed the midway point of the first half of the 88-74 defeat. The review was a talking point for Barnes and multiple players after Saturday's 78-69 win.

"It hurt," admitted Kevin Punter Jr. "As a player you know when you screw up. And you know when you're about to get it. You start watching the film, and you've just got to take it. There's no need to make no excuse. It is what it is. If you didn't want it to happen, you should have did what you were supposed to do in the game.

"For the most part, guys just take it right to the head. That's all you can do. Don't sit there and try to talk back to Coach. He'll let you have it. You've just got to learn from it."

Barnes wants his team to learn from wins, too.

Tennessee's defensive effort Saturday pleased the coach, and multiple players made key contributions.

While Punter carried the load offensively, Devon Baulkman helped limit Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina's co-leading scorer, to two points. Moore filled the box score with six rebounds, four assists and five steals. Freshman Kyle Alexander grabbed six rebounds in eight minutes, and Robert Hubbs III had eight rebounds, his second-highest total of the season.

Per Barnes, however, the tone of the ensuing video review wasn't all that different from the one three days earlier.

"You really put it under the microscope and you see that there's still a lot of things that we can do better," Barnes said. "We showed some things that we did do better. But we showed some areas that we talked about wanting to do better that we didn't do better and that we have to continue to do that.

"We learned something from the Vanderbilt game, one of them being if you don't play hard you don't have a chance. What are we going to learn from here? We have to understand, regardless of it being a big win — and it was a big win for our guys — that we can do more, and we have to do more, and really we have to do far more.

"The whole tone of that was still some guys didn't do the things that they had talked about that they were going to do. You don't want to be just a team that survives. You want to be a team that's really trying to accomplish something, and to do that you've got to constantly be looking to move forward."

And that's after both wins and losses.

"I was really shocked at how we handled the last game," Moore said. "A lot of people could say it's easy to get up for a team who's ranked, but if you take that out of it and looked at some of the film that we watched, a lot of guys — K.P., D.B., Derek (Reese), Detrick (Mostella) — you could see how much effort guys were putting (into) the defensive side of the ball.

"That's a very big step for us."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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