Dec. 27, 2005
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Bruce Pearl: "The number that jumps out at me tonight was 15,797. That was a great crowd at Christmastime. Our guys were excited about being home again. To have a program, it takes a village. The Marketing department has worked triple overtime to get people into the seats. If we had not come out and played with the effort that we gave tonight I would have been disappointed.
"Defense is going to be an issue all year long for us. We had good ball pressure and a sense of urgency defensively. It helped the offense.
"To have nine turnovers against a team that forces 20 is pretty good. C.J. Watson handled the ball really well. Overall, I thought we played well. Some teams do not get better, but we were better in this game. Alabama A&M will challenge for the SWAC.
"JaJuan Smith played really really well coming off the bench. So did Jordan Howell, and Ryan Childress. And the same goes for Major Wingate. Andre Patterson started tonight because Major was late coming back from Christmas break. His car ran out of gas coming back, and he lost his starting position. But he will probably get it back.
"Against Alabama A&M we saw what we had to do defensively. We will probably defend differently every night. We have got to be multiple. We have to carve out an identity. Their attitude is good, but they did not like the taste of defeat."
ALABAMA A&M HEAD COACH L. VANN PETTAWAY: "I knew coming in we would have to handle their pressure, and we did not do a good job of that tonight. Once Chris Lofton got hot with the 3-pointer, there was no stopping him.
"We wanted to take the clock down and their pressure would not allow that. It actually caused us to play faster than we wanted to play tonight.
"Bruce Pearl has a good scheme going, and a good group of kids who have bought into his system. I think he is going to do well. I just hope the Tennessee fans will be patient. They have the right coach, but I just hope they give him the opportunity to get some kids here. In a couple of years he is going to look to win. He is going to look to win this year, but Pearl is going to be a perennial coach to win the SEC championship."
- Alabama A&M entered the game leading the nation with 13.2 steals per game and finished with only two.
- Tennessee set a season-high with 28 assists (previous 23 vs. ETSU 11/18).
- Tennessee matched it season low with nine turnovers (Murray State 11/30).
- Andre Patterson made his first start of the season. His last start came in last season's finale against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. His 14 rebounds tied his career high set against Murray State 11/30.
- JaJuan Smith set a career-high with 16 points, bettering his previous best of 12 set at Texas.
- Dane Bradshaw matched his career-high with six assists.
- C.J. Watson scored 16 points moving into a 34th place tie on UT's career scoring list with Terry Crosby (1976-79) at 1096 points. Fred Jenkins (1984-87) is 33rd with 1,149 points.
- Watson recorded two steals to become just the fourth Vol with at least 160 career steals.
- Tennessee has scored at least 80 points six times in eight games this season. The Vols did it only five times last season.
- Tanner Wild made his first career appearance.
- Eddie DeBro made his first career field goal.