Dec. 20, 2008
Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl: "I try not to listen to talk radio very often because it is not good for your health. But once in a while I listen, just for the fun of it. Today I am listening to some guys who said this game was going to be a blowout. Do they realize this is the team that had Duke beat last year in the NCAA tournament? They beat Alabama and Cincinnati. Belmont is a great offensive team, and we held them to 41 per cent shooting today because of great efforts by our players. Our guys did respect Belmont very much.
"You have got to be able to shoot against a zone. We drove the ball against the zone, but now we need to work our fast break against the zone.
"It was a scary game that a lot of people do try to stay away from. Alex Renfroe plays that way against the best opponents Belmont faces. It was a solidly played game; we have a hard time pressing, and we tried to keep the ball our of Renfroe's hands. We did not get turnovers off of the pressure, but eventually we were able to wear him down to some extent.
"We are growing as a team. Renaldo Woolridge made three big shots tonight for nine points. I saw some inconsistencies by us as a team, and we will continue to see some of those. We are not able to dictate the tempo in a game. We do not try to dictate it because we have too many big guys on the floor.
"Wayne Chism had six points because Belmont packed it in down underneath the goal. But Chism did not say a word about wanting to get the ball more from his teammates."
Belmont Head Coach Ricky Byrd: "You take steps in programs. The Duke game last year was a phenomenal experience for us; Tennessee is a really, really hard team to beat. We had more than a fair chance to do it. It is disappointing when you do not close it. I am not disappointed in the players, their efforts, or anything about them; I am just really disappointed in the outcome.
"I am disappointed for Alex Renfroe - he has worked on his free-throw shooting so much, and has made a whole bunch these last two games - he is going to be disappointed in the last part. But he did play a phenomenal game. He is such a great basketball player. When he played like that, we were able to beat Middle Tennessee Wednesday. He has total liberty on the floor. There is no coaching him when he has the ball. He is a creator, and I have not had many like him. Few players can break a defense down like he can.
"We have got five seniors who have played in three NCAA tournaments. These guys have played at Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Illinois, and about two or three every year where we go into a real hostile environment. Their experience - a lot of them are fifth-year guys - they have the confidence and the experience you cannot buy it, or coach it. They have got to play well in their arenas to know that you can. We get closer and closer every time. I think we are good enough to legitimately come in and play people like we have."
- Tennessee improves to 27-0 all-time under Bruce Pearl against non-conference opponents at Thompson-Boling arena.
- The Vols home-court win streak is now at 36 games.
- With the win, Tennessee improves to 17-3 vs. in-state opponents under Bruce Pearl.
- Tyler Smith scored a season-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting.