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March 9, 2016

Bruce Pearl

T.J. Dunans

Tyler Harris

Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee - 97, Auburn - 59

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue with Auburn. We'll ask Coach Pearl for some general comments on the game.

COACH PEARL: Difficult game, very difficult season. Tennessee got off to a great start, and they were offensively able to do pretty much whatever they wanted through the whole game. They were able to drive it to the basket effectively. They're a very athletic team, and their style of play really doesn't change that much without Punter because -- but I thought Armani Moore played great, driving it downhill.

They just one-on-one kind of beat us off the bounce, and we didn't have much of an answer for them. And then on the offensive end, we definitely -- we struggled with only four assists, didn't really share the basketball. So it was a tough year.

We made progress. We had some really good moments. But, obviously, we're really disappointed.

Q. For the guys, defensively you didn't have a very good night. You guys looked a little bit slow. Can you talk about that?
TYLER HARRIS: They just did a great job of attacking us and attacking and looking for the shooters. They knocked down a lot of threes and everything in the first half and continued to drive at us. That's what they do. Was able to get to the line and was really hot from the outside early, so it kind of affected us earlier in the game.

T.J. DUNANS I think we came out like we do on defense, so I think they just made shots, and we didn't make shots.

Q. Bruce, when you got that technical, it looked like you looked across the court at Jake Bell and Commissioner Sankey. I imagine you can't say what you said, but was that just frustration boiling over?
COACH PEARL: I just, I thought there was a foul. That's what I said. That's a foul.

Q. Coach, just quickly about the clock issue at the beginning and how that came about. I mean, do you think that that had any kind of factor in the start?
COACH PEARL: No, I don't think it had an effect. And they asked me at halftime if, because we didn't have a shot clock, if I didn't want Tennessee to have a shot clock. And I said, no, just fix it. It's not about who gets it and who doesn't get it. It happens.

So I thought the right decision was to -- because they gave me a choice as to whether or not Tennessee would have to play without a shot clock, and I didn't think that, if we could get a shot clock in there -- now, they would have -- they did talk to both coaches before the game about whether or not we would want to delay the start of the game, and, again, I just didn't think that was going to be -- the shot clock was not a factor.

Q. Bruce, the way they were able to break you down on the perimeter, was that a surprise to you? Or was that something that you thought you had to stop and you had to get handled early on?
COACH PEARL: Yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise, but they did it in Knoxville. Punter only scored two points in Knoxville, and they ran us out of the building. So it was the same group that did it again, and we just -- we couldn't keep them in front of us.

I knew T.J. Dunans could help us some offensively, and he did, but defensively -- Tennessee is -- they're hard to guard. They're hard to stay in front of. And then Horace Spencer is really my only rim protector, and so when they got in there, boy, they finished.

And we didn't -- this was a team that wouldn't take charges all year long, you know, and if you don't protect the rim, you can't block shots. You don't take charges, people are going to drive it at you, and they did. And we knew they would.

Q. Bruce, obviously, recruiting for next year is going pretty well. Obviously, there's two big guys. But for these first two seasons on the court, has it been a little bit rougher than you maybe thought it would have been?
COACH PEARL: Well, I hope you would think that it would be rougher than I thought it would have been. During the regular season, for sure, because we're not happy with finishing 13th. At the same time, we've made a lot of progress, having beaten Kentucky and Alabama, Tennessee at Arkansas. That combination hasn't happened since 1967.

For many stages during the season, we had seven guys on scholarship out there. So the injuries were significant. We played the last half of the SEC without a point guard, and we played about five or six games without a point guard, and Cinmeon Bowers had to play point guard. So it has been a very difficult year. A lot of it has to do with how good the league is. And it's just not a good league to not be very good. And we're very deep. And that was a real challenge for us.

But I'm very disappointed in our play, but I'm not at all discouraged about the direction of our program. I feel really good about where we're going.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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