Dec. 21, 2010
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl:
"It was a very disappointing loss. They had 27 points off 18 turnovers, and that's probably what killed us. Southern Cal played solid defensively and they're very strong in the interior. When we went to the basket, they stripped and ripped us way too often. Too many passes to the post players got deflected. One of our greatest challenges offensively, in addition to getting into some sort of continuity or flow, has to do with a lot of teaching that needs to take place still. We need to work on making the pass either to feed the post or to get the ball on time or on target to somebody.
"We did a pretty good job of driving the ball. We wanted to try and get them into foul trouble on the inside, and we wound up doing a great job with our post defense. Those guys did a terrific job in the post defense. To out-rebound that team as significantly as we did and to defend them as well as we did in the second half, had we done better offensively and not turned the ball over, we would have put ourselves in a position to win.
"You saw a case in point in that last possession. Cameron (Tatum) gets a great rebound. Rather than outletting that ball to Mel (Melvin Goins), he puts the ball on the floor a little bit and then gets the ball to Mel in a really tight spot. He could have turned it over or gotten trapped. Then he gets the ball back to Cameron across the 10-second line and Cameron has no place to go with it and Cameron has to call a timeout. If Cameron gets the rebound and outlets the ball to Mel, then we fill lanes. Keep in mind, Southern Cal is very good in transition. We get the ball into our point guard's hands with guys running down the floor, we will get some kind of spacing or some kind of spread and Melvin makes a play. That would be a good example of spacing, guys going to the right spots, and getting a better look."
On the timeout with 3.5 seconds to play ...
"I don't know. I didn't call timeout. Because we did a poor job on the fast break, Cameron got the ball in a tough spot rather than just getting it, running your break, get to your spacing. Why did I call timeout in Charlotte? Because Scotty (Hopson) had the ball coming down the floor at the 10-second line. That's not what I want. I want the ball in my point guard's hands, then maybe he gets the ball, penetrates and kicks and those guys make shots or make plays. That would be an example of how spacing is an issue. For example, in Charlotte, they scored a basket and we inbound the ball to Scotty. Scotty is supposed to be running down the floor."
On the final play of the game ...
"We brought Brian (Williams) off the rub and brought Scotty off the flare and were hoping to get the ball to Tobias (Harris) at the top of the key. But the young man guarding Tobias didn't bite on the flare, and when he stepped out, he was too far from the basket to be able to have time to make some kind of play. If we had another timeout, seeing how they guarded it, I probably would've called another timeout in that situation because of the quickness they had on Tobias."
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH KEVIN O'NEILL:
"They got a good look at it at the end. Tobias Harris had as good of a shot as you can get with 3.5 left, and we were fortunate it did not go in.
"That's obviously a big win for us, especially coming off a crushing loss to Kansas on the road. We've been on the road six days, and we tried to schedule some road trips to get our guys used to Pac-10 stuff. We have a bunch of guys who haven't gone through it before.
"We needed a top-20 road win. We have been here for two days, and I had a great time with John Ward, Gus Manning, and all the old-timers I know. I had lunches with them, dinners, and beers, and all that kind of stuff; it was great to see those guys. It was great to get the win no matter who it was. There are great fans here and they really support their team. They were really behind them tonight, and we won in a tough environment, which says a lot about our team."