March 4, 2006
Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl:
"We played awfully well, especially down the stretch when we really needed it. We came in here facing a very hungry team in Vanderbilt, a team that was playing for their tournament lives and playing well. It took a great effort on our part. This is a big win for our team."
"One of the questions I got before this game was 'where's the motivation for your team since you already have won the East and you're facing a team that trying to get in the tournament?' I told them the difference is we've brought it every night. We haven't won every night, but we've competed every game. Tonight, they just thought we hung in there and got a great victory."
"It's going to be a better week in Knoxville because I'm not going to have to answer any questions about what's wrong with my team. I told our team to just try to become the dangerous team we know we are. We still want to be that team that nobody wants to play because they play harder, they press you, and they shoot the 3-pointer so well. I told them to be that tough match-up. It was that way tonight. I thought we were a tough match-up for Vanderbilt.
Reaction to coming back from 16-point deficit in second half: "I came here knowing that it was going to be a tough game for us. (Vanderbilt) had won three games on the road and were playing to get in the touchdown. I wasn't thinking about tomorrow, I was thinking about what I have to do to hang in there. I was looking to see if we could get the tempo up and see if we could get the floor spread. Toward the end, we had five guards on the floor (to push tempo) and it worked out for us."
On driving to the basket more: "I did take it off the bounce a lot more. I really did make an effort to get easy shots and get it going. They didn't take the three away from me so much as I was just missing it. They did do a good job defending me though."
On what turned the momentum: "Our press and our defense really helped us out. Getting turnovers and then getting easy baskets. I think that gave us a little more momentum. We never quit, we always have fight in us."
On the importance of winning this game heading into the SEC tourney: "Those two losses hurt us. We had to bounce back. This was a big win for us."
On coming back from a 16-point deficit: "We knew our shots were struggling. We just kept fighting and started getting some shots to fall. We put pressure on the ball and turned it into more baskets. I was big for us to get a win going into the SEC Tournament."
On Asumnu's made free throws and Bradshaw's three-pointer: "That was a big turn around for us. It got our momentum going. We were focused, we just had to push hard and dig deeper."
On why the offense struggled in the first half: "We couldn't get our spacing right. We couldn't hear each other. It was very loud in there and with coach all the way at the other baseline calling plays it made it difficult."
On coming back from down 16 points: "I think it benefits us in the long run. We've been faced with every kind of adversity - down a lot, losing lead - and know we know we can overcome every type of adversity we see."
On the turning point: "We have so many valuable pieces to this team. We made a few good baskets and got shots going. And I think that made a few guys pick up their intensity. This was a must-win game for us - we really felt that. We knew that losing four-out-of five would be the worst thing for us going into the tournament."
Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings
Opening Statements: "We were obviously disappointed to say the least. We played the first have like we wanted to. I thought we took good care of the ball in the first half and not in the second. We lost our poise in the second half and that is very disappointing. This is our 27th game of the year. We as coaches should have had our guys more poise and more ready for the press."
On the second half UT press: "The key is staying organized. I can't tell you the number of times we wouldn't be in the right press alignment. One time it was out of a timeout and we still were in the wrong alignment. We didn't stay organized and we lost our poise."
On the game as a whole: "They are going to make runs. We had very good opportunities to score during the game and we just couldn't do it. We probably did a better job with the physicality in the first half and they did a better job in the second."
"We have handled the press well all year except for the second half of this game. They (Vanderbilt players) won't forget this one. There is still a lot left to be played. We haven't felt sorry for ourselves all season and we are not starting now. We're not accustomed to losing like this at our place and we don't like it. If we had gotten what we needed to done, we would have had a great year."
On Tennessee's Second-Half Run: "Basketball is a game of runs. Every team makes runs. Tennessee presses full-court. In the first half, we did a pretty good job of managing the game and being calm. You can't have any slip-ups against a team like this. It led to too many baskets for them."
"We've lost a couple of games like this, but this hurts more. This is upsetting because we were trying to get something started headed into the SEC Tournament. I felt like we took a step back."
"Coach [Stallings] has preached from the beginning of the season to win the SEC Tournament. We're going to go out with the same mind frame and try to win it. All of our losses and slip-ups mean our life is on the line. We have to keep fighting."
On Tennessee's Press: "When they started pressuring us, we lost our composure. We threw the ball away. Teams will go on runs during basketball games. Better teams will keep their composure. We'll practice this week keeping our composure."