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March 17, 2018

Rick Barnes

Admiral Schofield

Grant Williams

Dallas, Texas

Loyola Chicago - 63, Tennessee - 62

RICK BARNES: You know, it's always a tough way to lose a basketball game, the buzzer beaters, but you know, we had the ball with a chance to tie it or go up. We did. They had the ball with a chance to win it, and they did it.

But I can -- again, congratulations to Loyola. Got a really nice basketball team. But I am proud of our guys. They kept fighting today, found a way to stay in it, and put themselves in a position to have a chance to win it, and obviously a tough way to lose it, but again, congratulations to Loyola, and we've got a lot to build on going forward.

Q. Obviously a 15-6 start, they called a time-out, and the game really seemed to flip from there. What did they do to adjust and change things at that point?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: They started making shots.

GRANT WILLIAMS: We just didn't continue to play on the defensive end. We were playing hard, but we weren't really playing smart. That's basically it.

Q. Admiral, after you picked up the second foul and went to the bench, how hard was it to get back in the groove? 11 points in the first four minutes. Did you feel like you kind of cooled off?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: No, I wouldn't say I cooled off. It was just hard to play physical like I do on the floor. That's just sometimes how the game goes. The refs got to control the game a certain way, but credit to them. They got in position, and the refs called what they saw.

Q. Grant, what did you notice about not having Kyle out there? How was the game different, and was it mostly on defense where you feel like that showed up?
GRANT WILLIAMS: Yeah. He's a talented defender. He's our rim protector. We missed him, but we had a lot of guys that could step up and fill that role, but it's hard to win a game when you allow a team to shoot 50 percent from the field. It's hard. Hard to win.

Q. It's tough right now, but can you look at this season and still put in perspective what you guys have done for this program?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: Well, we've worked really hard, and the biggest thing is we've brought some excitement around the basketball program again. Tough loss, big shot. And for us, it doesn't define who we are. It doesn't define our season. We did a lot of great things this year, but it's motivation. It's something that we needed to happen, especially for our group.

We've still got guys that are going to be returning. And for us, all we can do is build on it. We got here. We got a little bit of taste of what it's like to be here. And if we want to go further, we've got to work a little harder.

Not to say that we didn't work hard, but we worked very hard, and just the little things what goes into winning, we've got to correct and we've got to be more consistent in that. And I think with this experience, it'll really help.

GRANT WILLIAMS: Yeah, what Admiral said. We did a good job this year when it comes to putting kind of Tennessee back on the map, but it's really about just coming back next year and being stronger because this team, we have almost everyone returning. That's all.

Q. When did you know Kyle wouldn't be able to go? I know it's impossible to say exactly how it impacted the game, but how much did you miss him?
RICK BARNES: Well, we weren't sure. We were going to wait right before the game to see if he could do anything. It's not that we did a lot to get ready. We did walk-throughs and what we normally do, just a shorter version of everything. He couldn't do any of that, but he still tried to stretch. He warmed up and couldn't do it. He's a difference maker. We can't replace him, what he does at the rim for us. We can't.

And I'm not -- again, I'm not taking anything away from Loyola Chicago because they won the game. But you've watched us play all year. He's been a big part of what we've done. We had these clips before the game showing the guys our defense.

And to be honest with you, when we walked out of the room, I said, maybe we shouldn't have shown that because Kyle was involved in all of them. And he does, and he's crushed because he wanted to be able to go, but he just couldn't do it.

Q. How tough was it down the stretch without any time-outs? How did that affect your strategy?
RICK BARNES: It was, but -- it was tough, but we had to use some a couple times to try to -- again, Grant had to play a lot of minutes today and Admiral getting in foul trouble early. The start of the game, we came out emotional, playing hard, but our offense -- a question was asked earlier about what did they do different. We took bad shots. We were making them play long possessions on defense, and we would go down and jack up a quick three after three or four seconds and come back and play defense again. So we didn't really give ourselves a chance. Again, we were too emotionally charged up there.

But you know, I like saving time-outs, especially with teams. I do. I like to do that. But I did tell them if they score, what I like to see us do, and to be quite frank, we didn't do it, and I wanted to let the ball roll and set up a play that we have. But again, they're young and emotional and those things happen.

As much as you talk about it and hope that you prep for it -- because Bone can get the ball. He can cover some distance pretty quickly, but we didn't really get a chance to do it the way we'd have liked to have done it, but he still got it down there. But again, it's the emotional part of it because we guarded it, and then they made a tough shot. But that's part of the game, guys. There's players capable of making those kind of shots.

Q. In the second half it seemed like they were really emphasizing not letting Grant get the ball. I assume you wanted him to have it more than he got it in the second half?
RICK BARNES: Well, again, but we felt -- at sometime or other, we didn't want to just stand around and force feed it to him. He gets a lot of attention, but we needed some other guys to step up and make some plays, as well.

He played a lot of minutes, and we want to get it to him, but Grant did a great job passing the ball. We knew they were going to double-team him. A couple times they didn't, and he made a terrific play there to put us up there at the end. But he was working to get it because then they weren't making it easy for him. But I just felt like our guards early in the game, they were holding the ball too long. They weren't moving the ball. They weren't moving themselves. We wanted to drive for. You look at it. We kept talking about drive the ball, drive the ball, drive the ball, and we didn't get enough of that out of our guards.

Like I said early, we took six or seven straight threes where that's just not what we do, and it's emotion. I think it's emotion more than anything and being, like I said, too, being a little too charged up.

Q. What was your message to the team after the game?
RICK BARNES: You know, they're crushed. We all are. But -- and I told them, I said, hey -- one, I'm glad it hurts a little bit because sometimes I've had some teams you wonder if it hurt deep enough. I told them once we step back and decompress from all of it, we've done a lot, a lot more than certainly what other people thought.

But as a group, these guys felt they could win, and they're going to look back on it in a couple weeks and realize that it was a special year, but it also puts us in a different position. We won't be picked to finish 13th next year in the league or 14th. I think we've been picked there three years in a row, either 13th or 14th. So now that presents another challenge that we'll get into later on, but right now -- and I told them, they've got to be proud for -- and you know as much as anybody that the University of Tennessee needed something good to happen to it, especially in the athletic department.

I think those guys have created that going forward, and we've got some wonderful student-athletes at Tennessee, some great programs going on, but I think it was a great year for the University with its basketball team because -- it was good, and I told those guys that. The way our fans got behind us was special, and the fact that they shared an SEC title and came within a couple seconds of getting to the Sweet 16. But like I told them, they've got to want more. I told them -- we talked about what -- they know what our goals are, and one of them will be to try to be in this tournament every year, something you don't take for granted.

I told them coming in here, trying to explain to them because they had never been part of the NCAA Tournament. None of them had ever participated in it. I said to them when the pairings come out, we didn't put up the board or any of that stuff. We just talked about who was right in front of us. And I said, I've seen, I think, everything you can see in terms of this tournament except one thing, and that's a 16 beating a one. And I said, I don't know it'll happen in my lifetime, but it's going to happen in yours. First thing they said to me this morning, they said, well, Coach, I guess you've seen it all, which I don't think I have, but I've seen a lot of these kind of games, buzzer beaters, and it hurts.

But one team hurts. The other team feels good and gets to go on. This team, like Admiral said, we've got a lot of guys coming back, all but one, and they can use it as a catalyst to want to get back here and try to go deeper and further. It can be a good thing.

Q. Just the free throws, you mentioned the guards weren't driving the basketball like you wanted them to. Is that the main problem?
RICK BARNES: Well, again, we wanted to -- going inside is not just throwing the ball to Grant Williams. I felt like the only time we really drove it hard was the last play of the first half. Again, I told the guys when we were up, I was telling the coaches, hey, everybody going into the game like they had to get a shot off, and so we -- and we wanted to drive the ball. We knew they were going to switch. They didn't really do anything that we didn't expect them to do.

But we just didn't -- we settled, and they would have let us do that all night long if we'd have wanted to do that. But at the end -- but our guys, I'm proud of them. They hung in there. We had to fight through it. We had to fight through Admiral not playing well, Kyle obviously not being in it.

But again, we came back, and that's what we told them, if we can just get the ball back and make some plays on the other end, get the lead, put a little pressure back on them, and Grant made a terrific move there, almost came up with a great turnover, would have been a great turnover. But then they made a pretty tough shot. They really did. And the ball hit and bounced and goes in. But that's basketball.

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