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Postgame Quotes: Vols 82, Auburn 54

March 5, 2014

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

On if they are playing their best basketball now...
"I think so. We are playing hard and as a team. This is a team I envisioned defensively. It really helps when Antonio (Barton) is making shots. Antonio has done a great job running the team at the point. I have always been a guy, as a player or coach, that believes you can always get better. It is just a matter of the guys embracing it. You can teach it all day long, but if they don't embrace it, good things won't happen."

On if he has been challenging them defensively...
"It is never a challenge. You talk about it. You coach them and you teach them. That is every day. There isn't a time where I say one week we need to do something a little bit more. My approach never changed. It is just a matter of the guys knowing it and embracing it. I want them to know what it is like to be successful and what it takes to be successful."

On the late season runs...
"I think what helped us is Antonio. I think you can reach a high level of success with a good point guard. I don't care what you have on the interior and I don't care what you have on the wing, if you have a good point guard, you will have success. He helps us defensively, because he is the most vocal. It used to be Jeronne (Maymon), but I think Antonio has really stepped up and been that guy."

On Jarnell Stokes' passing ablility...
"Jarnell has had his shot fall. He has been doing a great job when they double him. It is just a case of shots falling."

 

 

On peaking at the right time...
"I think so. We're playing hard. We're playing as a team. This is the team I envisioned defensively. I think it really helps when Antonio [Barton] is making shots. I think Antonio has done a great job of really running the team at a point. I've always been a guy, as a player and a coach, that believes it's never too late to get better. We always take pride down the stretch of a season. We continue to improve our skill. We continue to improve on both ends of the floor. It's just a matter of the guys really understanding and embracing it. You can teach it all day long but if they don't embrace it, it can be hard. But if they embrace it, anything can happen."

On challenging the players defensively...
"You talk about it. You coach them and you teach them. You are always teaching. You are challenging every day. You demand certain things every day. My approach never changes. It's just a matter of guys understanding it, embracing it, and knowing what it takes to be successful."

On what has sparked the late season success...
"What really helped us was Antonio. I think as a team any time you can reach a high level of success is because of your point guard. If you can have a good point guard... I think Antonio has really bought into it. I think Darius [Thompson] is playing with more confidence. Once Antonio fell in line and started making shots... Again I thought the last three games were his best floor games all season. He was really running the team and very vocal. I think he helps us defensively because he is probably the most vocal out there. Other than Jeronne [Maymon], I think Antonio has really stepped up and been that guy."

On Maymon's improved game
"You're talking about a guy that's a senior. You know, the time is ticking. I obviously think he'll play a long time after college basketball, but it's just a case where a guy is taking pride in what he's doing. He knows he is a senior and that he wants to be successful. He wants his team to make the NCAA Tournament. He's just one of those guys that is doing what he does."

On winning big at Auburn
"I talked to the guys, a couple of them about ten days ago. I talked to them about having a relentless focus. Not everybody on the team, just some of the guys because they can keep the atmosphere loose. But sometimes it might be too loose. You don't want guys uptight going into a game. I talked to a few guys about really locking in and taking a more serious approach in everything they do. I think it has paid off for us."

On locking down Auburn's top scorers defensively
"That starts with Josh [Richardson] and Jordan [McRae]. Jordan on K.T. Harrell and Josh on Chris Denson. Those guys took pride in [guard those two]. In order for us to be successful, I just told them that we needed a relentless effort from start to finish. We needed a real demand on those guys defensively. I thought they did an exceptional job."

Junior forward Jarnell Stokes

On tonight's win...
"It was all on defense. We basically drew a line and told them to cross it. I felt it was a great defensive effort from top to bottom. We were playing against two of the top leading scorers in the SEC. It's hard coming into an arena on senior night and winning the game, especially when the seniors are their best players. It was a great effort by the team."

On career high seven assists...
"I felt like I did a good job distributing the ball. We hit shots. When we do that, I won't force any issues at all."

On keeping the intensity up...
"We learned from our experience in other games. We just wanted to continue to push the pace as well as taking care of the ball. We were up by 30 points, and coach told us it is a long game. There was three minutes left. That's the mindset. It's a great mindset to have."

On playing their best basketball of the season...
"It's definitely our best basketball. Auburn felt that they could pull this game out, especially on senior night when emotions are high. We came in and took the life out of the arena. It's our best basketball and at the right time also."

Auburn head coach Tony Barbee

On the game...
"We dug ourselves into too big a hole. But I am proud of the way the guys kept fighting. I thought we fought in the first half, we just couldn't get any shots to go down, and we missed a lot of layups. But I saw a team that kept fighting, so I am proud of the guys for that. I am just disappointed for our seniors that they couldn't go out on a winning note."

On Chris Denson...
"I think he is pressing. I think he is thinking about the whole leading the SEC in scoring deal and it is hard to play under that pressure. We talked to him about worrying about the little things. Worry about guarding and playing defense, getting stops and rebounds. Don't think about offense because then if you put all the pressure of `I got to score' then it is hard to do anything else."

On Tennessee's defense...
"They guarded at the same time we missed a lot of shots that we made over the course of the season. So it was a combination of both."

On the team's effort...
I thought the guys fought. I thought we kept fighting. Nobody hung their heads. It was just one of those things where you can't get the ball to go in and we couldn't get the necessary stops."

Auburn guard K.T. Harrell

On the first half...
"We just didn't execute. We didn't move the ball well. We didn't have any pace offensively and they were able to capitalize on that defensively."

On senior night...
"It was extremely disappointing. We really wanted to get this for these guys because it was their last time playing in this arena."

Auburn guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen

On scoring...
"You really can't explain it. We came out flat and dead. They had more life than us and it gave them the big lead. We're going to come back tomorrow and get our head back to get ready for the tournament."

On the second half...
"We just didn't want to go out how we did. We wanted to try to have the seniors leave on a good note. We can't take the game back. We have to look forward to Saturday's game against Texas A&M and the SEC tournament."

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