Postgame Quotes: Vols 77, Arkansas 58

Feb. 15, 2012

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Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

(Opening Statement)
"I thought we did a great job as a team and played well on both ends of the floor. We did a great job on defense, I thought in the first half, maybe only one or two shots weren't contested. We were challenging them, making them take tough shots, making them take the extra dribble, forcing them to make tough plays.

"I thought we shot it well, executed well against the zone. We worked the shot clock and got some good looks, then got to the point where we settled down.

"I thought we did a good job shooting the three point shot, we shot well, didn't settle for bad shots, only took good shots. We took one or two in transition that we could have passed up, but other than that, I thought we did a good job."

(On the balance in scoring with 6 players in double figures)
"The past three or four games, we've done a good job running the motion offense, that's a credit to our guys moving and getting open against the zone defense. When you make that pass, good things happen. We penetrated and found the shooter.

"Our success starts with Trae Golden, he's done a really good job taking leadership as the point guard. He's got his guys directing traffic, running the offense and that's good to see. Once he took that step and we became a better defensive team, I thought we had the chance to be pretty good."

(On Cameron Tatum's performance)
"The thing about Cam is that he continues to bring his hard hat to practice and you have to give him an opportunity. I continue to preach that if you work hard, good things will follow. He's struggled with his shot, but he's stayed consistent, stayed in the gym and shots have started to fall for him. He's always been a good defender and played hard, he got nine rebounds tonight."

(On the team's four-game winning streak)
"It's one game at a time. If we continue to do the things we're doing, we have a chance to be successful. We take things one at a time. We enjoy this one tonight, then tomorrow we do everything in our power to get prepared to beat a talented Alabama team, and that's easier said than done."

SENIOR GUARD Cameron Tatum
(On his effort tonight)
"It felt good just to contribute in any way possible. In the Florida game, I still felt like I contributed. I still felt like I was a part out there and did some good things. This game was just my night to have a couple buckets."

(On Coach Martin sticking by him)
"It's a testament that I'm going to continue to work hard and I would run through a wall for that man. It's just strong loyalty. You can't go wrong with a guy like that."

(On Tennessee controlling its destiny)
"We've talked about that, but we also understand that we need to take it one game at a time. We understood how important this first game was of those three teams (that Tennessee was tied with). We have to continue to just keep plugging away, come in tomorrow to practice, put this game behind us and get ready for Alabama."

(On whether the SEC is taking notice that UT is a different team)
"They could be. It's a possibility, but we can't worry about what other teams are doing or what they think about us. We can only worry about what we control and that's our team and getting better as a team."

(On whether he feels Tennessee is a different team now)
"Absolutely, just the way we're closing out games. We've had big leads. We let (Arkansas) come back a little bit and creep up on us, but we withstood it. We ended up getting the lead back up. Guys continued to stay hungry. Guys continued to attack and share the ball. The way we're sharing the ball right now is great for us as a team and a unit, chemistry-wise. As long as we continue to do that, we'll keep plugging away and keep getting better."

(On the major difference tonight)
"It's just a level of focus. I was more proud to see us, as a team, not have a layover or a hangover from the Florida win. The way we came out and played defense, attacking them on offense, we played as a team today. I was just proud of how we played."

(On whether he believed Tennessee could play at this level)
"I absolutely believed it. When we watched the film, you could see we were just a couple possessions and a couple mental lapses away. The true show of growth of this team is when we start pulling out close games and start beating some teams and being able to handle large leads. We're starting to see it."

Sophomore guard Jordan McRae
(On his play the past four games)
"I definitely feel like I am playing my best. We are winning games and there is nothing else you can ask for. I am playing with the same confidence but I am playing much smarter than I was at the beginning of the season. There is still so much you have to learn, and I have to keep learning. "

(On the four-guard line-up)
"It makes it difficult because they have to guard everywhere. There are not two players in the post, and it keeps the court open for driving lanes. Then when somebody helps, you have open shooters."

(On the 26-8 run to start the game)
"We were hitting a lot of shots and finding the open man. That is what our team can do really well. When we penetrate and kick the ball like that, we will be fine. The ball movement has been really good the past couple of games. We have some good shooters on the team and guys good around the basket. So, you need to get open guys the ball."

Freshman forward Jarnell Stokes
(On the 26-8 run to start the game)
"I think we are starting to make a lot of shots now and playing inside-out. That is really working for us. I was thinking (the game) was going to be a dogfight, but guys started hitting shots."

(On handling the double-team)
"I made quicker moves and was prepared for the double-team. I still have to do a better job of finding Jeronne (Maymon) on the passes."

(On playing with a big lead)
"I think we still get content and stagnant. We didn't even score in the last four minutes of the first half after we got that big lead. I think our guys were a little complacent. We just have to do a better job with that."

(On Tennessee's 19-0 first-half run)
"I didn't even know we were on a run. I just thought we were playing defense and scoring points. I thought we played pretty well at Florida too. I guess you could say that. I just think our defense really brought our offense. We got a lot of transition buckets that really helped us."

(On UT's defensive strategy)
"We just tried to play tough defense. Those guys like to come off a lot of screens and everything like that. We were just doing a good job of being in help position and trying to limit their paint points."

(On Coach Martin at halftime)
"His demeanor doesn't change. He's the same guy when we're up 20 or we're down 20. We just keep playing defense and executing the offense. We just play hard. That's all he stresses. He doesn't change."

(On Tennessee coming together as a team)
"I think we are just playing really good basketball right now. We're all on top of our games and we're all in sync, trusting one another. I just think that's really key for us."

(On Jarnell Stokes)
"We're just trying to stress in practice to keep two hands on the ball and keep your elbows up. They're either going to foul you or you're going to get the bucket. He did a really good job with the double-team today."

(On Jordan McRae)
"It was just a matter of time for Jordan, just getting his head right and feeling out the offense. It was just a matter of time. Jordan can score with the best of them. We were just waiting on him to come along."


(Opening statement)
"It was a game where in the first half we fought uphill. We dug a hole and turned the ball over. Obviously, Tennessee had some easy opportunities - they shot the ball well. They made some shots. You've got to give them credit; they established throwing the first punch.

"But in the second half, we responded a lot more positively. We got the lead down to 10 with a chance to cut it and one of their veteran guys, (Skylar) McBee, knocks a big shot down. But I liked the positiveness and I liked the effort in the second half from our guys."

(On the effect McBee's 3-pointer had when the score was 60-50)
"Well, again, you're fighting uphill and sometimes, especially with a young team, that can take the wind out of your sails. But it wasn't because our guys weren't trying."

(On Tennessee's hot shooting to start the game)
"They shot the ball. If you make 11 threes, you're going to beat a lot of people. Obviously, some of them were wide open and we've got to do a better job from that standpoint. And in the second half, we did a much better job. The field-goal percentage went down because we paid a little bit more attention to the guys who were shooting the basketball.

"Again, in the first half they were getting some easy opportunities - their transition and it just seemed like we were out of kilter on defense."





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