Feb. 4, 2006
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl:
"It was definitely a two-halves game. I thought we played really well in the first half. Clarence Sanders made some shots from outside, but they were not getting inside. They only scored one time against our half-court defense.
"As a well-coached team with a lot of heart will do, Ole Miss kept fighting back and continued to play its game in the second half. I thought we played better in the first half than we have recently, but we did not play that well in the second half. So we will just have to see where that leaves us.
"Regarding the technical foul, I was talking about a call and I had a technical called against me.
"Stanley Asumnu made some big plays that kept Ole Miss at bay. He is in for fewer minutes but he is playing better. He comes in when the other team is a little fatigued and it is good to have Asumnu in there fresh. Major Wingate made some big plays, but I have got to get him more than six shots.
"C.J. Watson controls things out there. When the ball was not in his hands, Ole Miss disrupted our offense. When he had the ball, they were less disruptive.
"I know what is coming up on the schedule. We held serve for three straight home games and did what we had to do. Now, if you get some wins you are not supposed to, you get some separation. Not many teams win at the five places we are going these next few weeks. I will be honored to be on the floor coaching the Tennessee team next week at Kentucky, and I will be wearing the orange blazer in honor of coach Ray Mears.
"As far as first-half surprises are concerned, one is we are better than I thought we were. But a lot of things surprise me - our attendance, our support, and how we have managed to stay healthy. It is not how you start but how you finish."
OLE MISS HEAD COACH ROD BARNES:
"They do a great job of attacking. We were passive in the first half and they were the more aggressive team. The way they play, if you do not match their aggressiveness and their intensity, they are going to get a lead on you. After they built their lead, we settled down and realized it is not as tough of a press if we take care of the ball.
"Bruce Pearl has done a great job of getting those guys to buy into what he is doing. If we had responded with some intensity and aggressiveness early on, it would have been a much better basketball game. But they caused that. Their style is hard to prepare for. After we got into the flow of understanding how hard they play, we were just too far down. Again, it is a compliment to them.
"They are a team that creates turnovers. For teams to have 16 turnovers against this team is normal. We had 22, which is more than we needed, but if we had been around 16, I would not have been disappointed.
"Clarence Sanders really was impressive. I think he enjoyed the atmosphere. He was looking forward to the challenge of playing a top-25 team. I mentioned last week he was starting to find his way and tonight he kept us in the game."
- C.J. Watson scored 18 points today to move into 20th place on UT's career scoring chart with 1,264 points. He needs 41 points to pass Isiah Victor for 19th.
- JaJuan Smith set career highs with 17 points and seven rebounds. His previous best was 16 points and six rebounds, both done twice.
- Today's game was the 100th meeting between the schools, with Tennessee improving to 64-36 against the Rebels.