March 6, 2011
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl:
"It's another disappointing weekend. I told the guys I thought the effort was good. We guarded Kentucky as well as anyone has guarded them this year, particularly in the first half. In the second half, they shot 44 percent. That wasn't good enough (for us). Obviously, rebounding was a big factor down the stretch. We had a couple of chances where we got stops and couldn't secure a rebound. I was disappointed we never could make that last play and couldn't take them back to win the game.
"Kentucky plays great defense. They lead the league in field goal percentage defense. They really make it difficult to score.
"Tobias (Harris) gave us great confidence. You could see he was a lot healthier in this game than the last time the two teams played. He defended (Terrence) Jones well. I can't believe Jones goes to foul line15 times but he does. Tobias goes three. Tobias played really, really well on both ends of the floor.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of containing (Brandon) Knight for most part. He rose up and you could see what a special talent he is and what a special player he is. He made some huge shots and some big, big plays. We left (Darius) Miller a couple of times on some approaches and in the passing lane. He made some shots. They knocked down seven 3 balls. Their 3-point shot, when they needed a big basket they hit a 3.
"To leave second place (in the SEC) on the table and not finish with Kentucky is disappointing. To not be able to add to our history by getting swept by Kentucky is disappointing. I do feel it's a benchmark I should be judged on and I obviously have not done my job in our rivalry with Kentucky."
On the final offensive possession in the first half... "Kenny (Hall) came up on the ball screen too soon. Scotty (Hopson) should have waved him off. Kenny played really well. Kenny's really been battling and his attitude was good the last week. You can see Kenny can help us. He brought some energy and it was good to have him out there. He made a big difference. But in that last play (of the half) when we knew we needed the last shot, Scotty could have waved him back in and probably should have. Scotty went, so it's as much Scotty as Kenny."
On missing Brian Williams in the post... "I wouldn't even begin to make excuses. We've got enough guys who can rebound the basketball with two hands or get on floor for a loose ball. We've lost games on offensive end. We had a chance to win the game on defensive end. Against Kentucky, we didn't do it."
On the slow second halves against South Carolina and Kentucky... "Probably the same thing. Probably a tribute to leadership. I'm disappointed."
KENTUCKY HEAD COACH JOHN CALIPARI:
"What I told them was we grew up today. For the first time this year, we did not play the way we started. At North Carolina we did it, and didn't change it. At Georgia on the road this year, we did it, and didn't change it. Mississippi on the road, we did it, and didn't change it. Arkansas on the road, we did it, and didn't change it. Here, we changed it.
"I let the guys know in no uncertain terms DeAndre Liggins was the only guy who showed up in the first half. He was lighting us up. Other guys were bad; some guys were 1-for-9. They don't want to admit they got their butt kicked; that's the problem, but I just wouldn't let up. I was right there. And so now I said, `I want to see it; this is you competing - that would be unbelievable.'
"Their energy was incredible. And how in the world were we only down seven (at halftime)? We should've been down 15 or 18. But, in the second half, they fought like crazy. It was an experience - Tennessee wanted to win, we wanted to win. This was a big step. I told them we grew up today."