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March 15, 2019

Rick Barnes

Admiral Schofield

Jordan Bone

St. Louis, Missouri

Tennessee-83, Mississippi State-76

THE MODERATOR: We are ready to begin with Tennessee. We will take some opening thoughts on the game from Coach Barnes.

RICK BARNES: No doubt we knew it was going to be a really hard-fought game, which it was. I thought from a team, we really did a lot of great things out there. Lamonte Turner was terrific. You look at the stat sheet, might not show up. We were just in the locker room, felt what he did was really the difference in the game.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Jordan, can you talk about the way you played the game tonight. You took 28 threes at Auburn, tonight at 11.
JORDAN BONE: We had a really tough film session coming into this game. Really just understanding where our strengths were as a team. We took a lot of tough shots. We had to establish our inside game. I feel like that was the main focus going into this game, just understanding what our strengths were, playing inside-out and taking the open shots when they're there, but we don't have to force anything. I felt we were really good at that tonight.

Q. Admiral, he mentioned going inside. You did that a few times tonight. How was that part of your game working tonight?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: It's a strength of mine that I don't go to. Coach Barnes has been big on me just driving a lot more, trying to get fouled. I got a big body, got to use it. For me, that was one of the main focuses going into this post-season, driving, picking my spots when to shoot the ball, letting the offense create the threes. I've been doing that.

At the same time, like he said, I think the biggest thing tonight was Lamonte Turner on defense. He really changed the tone of the game, flow of the game, got us going on the offensive end and defensive end. Jordan Bowden running our team for us tonight was really big-time for us.

Q. They came out and pushed you in the second half, tied it up, then you pushed back. What sparked you there?
JORDAN BONE: Just understanding, like coach said earlier, it's going to be a tough-fought game. None of these games we're about to play are going to be easy. We have to continue to execute our game plan, continue to trust what the coaches give us. Just go out there and execute it, man. We have each other out there. Just executing the game plan is the key. Never get rattled when the game gets tight like that. Just trust ourselves.

Q. Admiral, you get a third chance at Kentucky tomorrow. How nice is it? Were you looking forward to this game? What do you think about this chance?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: Honestly, we were just looking for an opportunity to win a championship. We didn't handle our business in the regular season. We got Kentucky next. They're a very talented team. They play well together. Very fast in transition.

The first two matchups, them punching us, us punching them, now we're facing each other again. We have to go out, compete, do what we do. We know they're going to come out, compete, do what they do.

It's good for our fans, both sides. At the same time we got championship in mind, and they do too. We got to go out and compete and fight just like anybody else.

Q. Jordan, the last time the game was tied, it was 42 all, then you hit the three-pointer. You had a nice reaction. Loudest the fans got. Talk about what it was like to hit that shot.
JORDAN BONE: It was the end of the second shot clock shot. I mean, I kind of just shot it with confidence. I knew I had to get it up. Like I mentioned earlier, the film session against Auburn, that was something I had in mind. Don't allow this team to have a shot clock violation. That's something that I have to know, having that awareness as a point guard. I shot the ball with confidence like I do any other shot, and it went in.

The guy, Carter, he was talking to me the entire possession. I just gave him a big smile. We just kind of went back and forth. All in all, it's just competing, man. That's what it's all about. We enjoyed ourselves out there tonight with the love of basketball.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes and continue with questions for Coach Barnes.

Q. Tell me about Kyle Alexander, offensively and defensively.
RICK BARNES: I thought he was terrific. When you think about it, he got back to really the last couple games being aggressive, starting to really assert himself more. We're going to need that from him from here on out, certainly tomorrow. We needed it tonight.

He did a lot of good things. Got his hands on a lot of balls. The ones he didn't get, he actually was able to break it loose a couple times where our guards were able to come in and clean it up.

Kyle played really well.

Q. You referenced the film session. Is that a reflection of the maturity on your team, that they can take some hard coaching, incorporate it into how they play instead of hanging their heads?
RICK BARNES: Well, it was hard. But it was real. I think, again, their maturity is there. One, I do know they want to be a good basketball team. It's hard to watch when you're not playing well.

We talked about obviously you have to know what goes into winning, but losing, too. We know what that is. You go back and look at our stat sheet in our four losses, we got away from who we really are as a team.

Yeah, I think their maturity, they came out, it's been a long week, and the fact waiting for this game. We actually had a long session after that, but we had a long one last night, too, looking at some things that they had to take a good, hard look at.

I thought today they were locked in. We knew it would be a hard one, and it was.

Q. You played Mississippi State twice in the last week and a half. They're getting set to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years. What about their team can they do to potentially make a run?
RICK BARNES: There's no doubt they can make a run. Won't be a little run. Again, I've got so much respect for Ben Howland, what he's done, the way they play basketball. They're not going to beat themselves. They got the ability. Their guards can hurt you. Their inside guys. Their length is a problem, will be a problem. They're going to be a tough matchup for anybody.

This league, I've said it before, I think it's as good as any league in the country. Any team that comes out of our league has a chance to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament, and they're one of them.

Q. You get a chance now for the third game in the semifinals against Kentucky. How big of an advantage is it for the winner of tomorrow's game to make one last case for No. 1 seed with the Selection Committee?
RICK BARNES: I just think our league, we should be in consideration for it. You go back, I think Kentucky has been a team that hasn't got its recognition that it should have. Before we played up there, you think about it, other than that one tough loss they had at Duke at the beginning of the year, they've been good all year long. Again, I just know this league deserves a No. 1 seed is what I believe. There's no doubt. Again, you look at them, what John has done, they've continued to get better. I think somebody told me Reid came back. That will certainly help them.

We know it's going to be a tough game. They know it is. I think right now both teams want to try to win this conference championship is what I think is really on both people's minds. Obviously I wish we were in the championship game right now because it's going to be a quick turnaround for us and them tomorrow. We just got to go play.

But I'll be disappointed if somebody in our league really and truly doesn't end up on that 1 line.

Q. A lot has been made about having you play in this late time slot. John Calipari said he was going to watch a movie and spend time with family. What realistically can you do in preparation in this short amount of time?
RICK BARNES: Well, not a lot really. I was upset they took some players and put them on the SEC set. We got to get out of here. It's late. We got to get them back, get their bodies taken care of, feed them, get going. It's hard. Again, we'll be back here in, what, about 13 hours. What time is the game? 2, so it's a quick turnaround.

But this time of year, our guys have seen enough. We know each other. They know us as well as we know ourselves, I think vice versa. It's just going to be a quick turnaround that we have to deal with.


RICK BARNES: Thank you, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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