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March 9, 2016

Rick Barnes

Derek Reese

Armani Moore

Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee - 97, Auburn - 59

THE MODERATOR: We're ready to begin with Tennessee.

COACH BARNES: I thought it was really a great team win for us today, and I think these two guys right here alone with Devon Baulkman, three seniors that we simply talked about coming in. This time of year, it's really about how long do you want to continue to play? I think it really speaks volumes about their character.

I do know that they miss having Kevin Punter. They know that he's in New York having his surgery, and he certainly was here with us in spirit. But these two guys played terrific games and just a great win for us.

Q. Armani and Derek, either one of you, just what makes you want to keep playing at this time of year?
DEREK REESE: Just it's our last go-round, and thinking about -- when I walked in, thinking about my sophomore year and we made it through the tournament and run through Sweet 16, it started bringing back memories. And I was like, you know, I want to experience that one more time. And I know it's my last go-round, so I'm going to give it my all every game.

ARMANI MOORE: Yeah, pretty much the same thing.

Q. For either player, how -- you get the ten points to get started. How easy did it seem -- you put up some good shooting numbers tonight. How big did that basket look?
DEREK REESE: I think we just came up there and started shooting with confidence. That's how I was feeling. Coach told me before the game, he was just like, Derek, if you've got the open shot, take it. And I took that as the green light. So I feel like everyone came out there, just shooting with confidence and just going all out.

COACH BARNES: I wouldn't go that far and call it the green light. The yellow light.

ARMANI MOORE: Yellow light, caution.

Q. For either player, Rick talked about you guys lacking confidence in the four-game losing streak during the regular season. How much does tonight do for confidence, especially when you're turning around and playing tomorrow?
ARMANI MOORE: I think it just goes back to what we talked about in the locker room today before the game. We just pretty much said it's going to have to start on the defensive side of the ball. Then once you look up and you see that scoreboard and you see that those guys aren't scoring as much on the other side, I think that leads over to the offensive side and gives us confidence.

Tonight a lot of our baskets came off of assists, and that says a lot about our team.

Q. Rick, at this point, the way things have been going here lately without Kevin, did 97 points or a 38-point win or whatever, did you think that was still possible at this time?
COACH BARNES: You know, I don't think you're ever go in a game thinking you're going to beat someone by that margin, and we didn't think that. We just talked about execution.

And it really got down to an attitude that we just simply, for the last couple days in practice, we have competed. We divided the teams up yesterday, young guys against the old guys, and it was really -- and losers run, winners got to keep it.

They communicated the best they have all year in practice, and we talked about this time of year. You know, coaches, leading up to this point, they try to put you through as many tough situations as you can put a team in and you try to get them hardened for this time of year, but this is the time of year that players have to play, and they've got to stay together and communicate. And today they were terrific with that.

I think Armani, too, he's played the point off and on. He's played every position on the floor, but he hasn't played it for a long time. And the last couple of games, he's gotten better and better to where I think he feels most comfortable. And right now, he's really wanting to play the point. I thought he did a really nice job of getting us settled in offensively.

But I don't think you ever go into a game thinking it's going to be one-sided. But are we capable of scoring points? We've done that off and on. But we also got some points inside, which we felt all year we could do that with Admiral. And we need Robert Hubbs to go in and do that more. Ray comes in, and I think he's getting more comfortable. But Derek Reese, what he's doing to keep the ball moving for us has helped us, too.

Q. Coach, hadn't had Detrick score that way in a little while. What did he do tonight to get himself into position to be successful?
COACH BARNES: What we try and tell him is he doesn't have to take and force three-point shots. We think the best part of his game is driving the ball. He drove a couple of times and got a little bit too deep. But we just keep telling him that his drive is going to set up his perimeter game.

But I think the biggest difference in Detrick is where he started really trying to get locked in on the defensive end, where he's not going into games thinking that he has to make a shot to have an impact. He's starting to realize he can do some other things and do some things defensively and without the ball to -- on offense to help us.

Q. Coach, you've mentioned Armani already, but how much did he set the tone for your guys from an intensity standpoint and attitude standpoint tonight, especially on defense?
COACH BARNES: I think that every team has got to have somebody that they kind of look at and think, as long as we've got this person, we're going to be okay. I think, on this team, I think they feel and they feed off Armani. When he's under control and he's playing and he's not letting his emotions get the best of him, I think he really gives his teammates confidence.

And what he does is, he sees it. I mean, throughout the game, he kept telling guys, get where you're supposed to be, and I'll get you the ball. And he was wanting them to really run more than they were running. He was getting on Derek and Admiral for slowing him down in transition because they were getting the ball inbounds and just jogging down the floor, and he was really wanting them to get out of his way.

But he was really tuned in in terms of what he needed to do to help his teammates get started, and I do think they feed off of him.

Q. Rick, a couple guys said in the locker room that this team's kind of gone into this tournament with kind of a nothing-to-lose mentality. It seemed like the team played loose and with maybe more confidence. Could you tell that -- not necessarily an attitude change, but this team has kind of gone in with nothing to lose?
COACH BARNES: Well, when you're playing in the play-in game, I would think that's pretty easy to figure it out. But the fact is we did talk to them about you always do have something to lose. You've got your pride. You've got your character, and you've got your habits that you've worked on. And we told them that we would be really disappointed.

And I think where you can run into a problem this time of year is where you've got a group of seniors that could very well get senioritis, and then you've got a group of young guys who have been playing off and on throughout the year, and there's a gap in between, which we kind of have.

So I think it really falls back on the seniors, and that's what we told them. You know, we're going to find out a lot about what you guys are about, and the fact is all year long these guys have played pretty hard. When you really go back and look at it, they've competed, they've scrapped, and we've had to fight through some injuries.

It's obviously tough to lose a guy like Kevin Punter. Robert Hubbs missed some games there, and that was 35 points sitting on the bench for a couple weeks there.

I think it goes back, it speaks volumes about the character of the seniors. It hasn't been an easy year for Derek Reese, but we told him, let's go play. But don't think we don't have something to lose because you always have something to lose.

But in terms of the game itself, we don't want to look back and have any regrets.

Q. Coach, two of the roughest games you all had this year came against Vanderbilt. What do you think you can do tomorrow to improve against them?
COACH BARNES: Well, we were terrible at our place. You know, they had their way. They played a terrific game. There, again, we had chances. We were there. Then we turned it over. I think we had it down to maybe nine, and then we turned it over 3 out of 4 possessions, or 4 out of 5 possessions, and they scored off, I think, every one of those possessions and blew the game open. And all those turnovers were unforced turnovers, where we just simply gave them the ball.

And they don't need any help. I mean, they're capable of shooting the ball well from the perimeter. They obviously can go inside with it. So, again, the third go round, we'll see if we can do better.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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