Feb. 26, 2011
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl: "Another disappointing Saturday. I thought we had good preparation. I felt good going into the game about the possibility of building some momentum. We got beat by three really good players today - (Kodi) Augustus, (Ravern) Johnson and (Dee) Bost - and we didn't have enough guys to step up for us. Scotty (Hopson) scored but there are a lot of things in the game that he didn't do to help us win. Tobias (Harris) came close to a double-double. He probably missed some shots that he can make.
"Defensively we played pretty well, played pretty tough. That's what we need to maintain. We held them to 40 percent (shooting). We outrebounded them. We didn't turn it over on them. I didn't think our energy was what it needed to be.
"We are not getting good leadership from within the team. We have some competitors who have no leaders. The team did not play well again offensively. If I don't call a play and put them in the spots they're supposed to be in, we have a hard time scoring and making decisions on our own. We're not playing well offensively and we haven't all year. The ball doesn't move quickly enough. The effort offensively isn't there. When you work pretty hard defensively you expend some energy. I don't see that offensively. Before the Vanderbilt game we talked about stepped up performance and we're just not getting it.
"If I knew what to do, I would have been doing it. The ball's not moving. We're not doing a good job on our play calls. We're not screening, not passing it."
On the home losses... "Quality of the opponent. The teams that have come in here have been good teams. The energy of our crowd has been great but it has not inspired our players to elevate their games. Our players have not been elevated because of the home support. Maybe it's because it is what it is, they are what they are. At this level, a great crowd usually does not bother the opponent. It's not that big of a deal. But it can elevate the play of the home team, and it hasn't done that this year."
On how the team handles the lack of leadership... "That's just a fact. We have got some good individuals, some really good kids. We have a lot of parity. We have a lot of guys who aren't much different or better than one another. Scotty and Tobias are significantly better than the guys playing behind them. Melvin (Goins) is significantly better than the backup point guard. The backup point guard continues to be a challenge."
On the game's final series of events... "On Tobias's play at end, we flip-flopped Tobias and Josh Bone in positions and had Tobias set that last screen for Scotty knowing that they would jump out on Scotty. Tobias was extremely patient. As far as their transition is concerned, Mississippi State had no timeouts and Dee Bost does what a point guard is supposed to do. They get it to him and he goes to the rim."
MISSISSIPPI STATE HEAD COACH RICK STANSBURY: "This win is special because you know what a quality team we just beat, and a quality program we just beat with the job Bruce Pearl has done. So that makes it special. It is not like we came up here and beat a bad team. We beat a very good basketball team that is well-coached and as good as anybody in this league. They have proven that a few times.
"Tonight I was awfully proud of our kids, and we did it in a lot of different ways. We had to change the lineup for the first time in 5-6 games with Jalen (Steele) out. So now we have to mix and match it a little bit. But those guys fought. (Renardo) Sidney basically couldn't go more than whatever minutes (10) he played in the first half. He was sick and couldn't play at all.
"But the guys off the bench allowed us to win the game. Brian Bryant came in and played extended minutes. And his minutes were so important because we didn't have to take Dee (Bost) off the floor. Dee slid over to the two spot and allowed us to keep him in the game. That was huge for us. Wendell Lewis gave us some big, big minutes. Kodi Augustus in the first half was so open, he was hesitant. In the second half, he loosened up and made some plays for us. A huge key was he made all three of his 3-pointers in the second half.
"It was a great team effort, and the biggest thing is we went on the road and played for 40 minutes. We didn't have a lapse. That's what you have got to do on the road to win - defend and rebound."