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March 8, 2007

Chris Lofton

Bruce Pearl


BRUCE PEARL: When you get to March and it's tournament time, you've got to be special and we didn't have it tonight. A lot of guys have to step up, coach has got to step up and take advantage of what you've done all season long, and we just weren't able to do that tonight.
We feel really badly for lots of reasons. But one of them is we're trying to add to the history of Tennessee basketball. We can't control what has happened in the past, that is Tennessee going home early. We've only had influence on the last couple of years. Dane's had it for four years, and Chris for three. And we're certainly real disappointed and real tired of leaving this tournament. Our fans travel down, and you know, got to stick around and root for everybody else.
We feel just terrible about it, because we appreciate the support. Glen Davis was a load in the second half, nine offensive rebounds. When he gets an offensive rebound that close, it's a basket or a free throw. He got 17 foul shots. When we play pretty good defense -- we couldn't keep him off the offensive boards. We turned it over 23 times, but we didn't score enough on those turnovers ourselves. We didn't execute very well, and we weren't sure. And you're just not going to beat a team as talented as LSU.

Q. For Chris, did you feel like at the five minute mark, I think you hit the three, put yourself up about five, did you feel pretty secure with the game at that point? You're like 37 and 2 under Bruce with leading with five minutes left.
CHRIS LOFTON: I didn't really feel secure, but I think we played in our hands. You know, tournament time, you never quit playing until the buzzer sounds.

Q. Coach, what was the difference in Davis' first half, second half? First half you seemed to have him under wraps pretty good. Was it just a matter of him applying himself, or did they do something different?
BRUCE PEARL: I think he got more touches in the second half. When you defend the post, it's got to be a team defense, and we left our five men down there a little bit too much, one-on-one. Ball pressure wasn't as good, and a lot of his free throws had to do -- he got nine offensive rebounds. When he gets those, he's standing underneath the basket.

Q. Bruce, a curfew violation for Ramar, to start both halves, was that recent, was that last night?
BRUCE PEARL: It was just last night. It's not happened before, it won't happen again. My policy is, when you've got a starter that violates a rule like that, he just comes off the bench. The guy that's on the bench, he maybe misses a rotation. You do it in an exhibition game, you do it in a tournament game. These are just the rules, he was just late.

Q. Coach, any thoughts on where this leaves you for the tournament, and what position you're in now?
BRUCE PEARL: You'd have to ask Joel and Artie. I don't have as many answers as those bracketologists. You know, a lot's going to depend on how the rest of this thing plays out. I think we had a strength of schedule about three or four, and our RPI was seven or eight, something like that. I would say you know maybe a five or a six seed, something like that, maybe a seven. I don't know.

Q. Bruce, I'm wondering, that call right at the end of regulation where they called the charge and wiped away the basket. John Brady talked about that and his team's resiliency in overcoming that. I'm wondering, does a call like that have an effect on your team as well going into OT?

Q. For the record, I said you're going to be a 5. Just thought I'd tell you. But truthfully, the way the game played out, it seemed they were able to get deflections and blocks that sort of equaled the turnovers you created. Have you been in a game this year where as many of those things happened, deflections and blocks started the opposition on a fast break.
BRUCE PEARL: Not as many this year. And the game last year at LSU, we turned over 19 times in the first half and they blocked 14 shots, and like eight or nine of them were lay-ups. Of course they had the big kid, Tyrese Thomas. We got some pretty good looks. It's like we're right there. And they block some and they change some. And I don't think we executed really well.
At the end of the year, your playbook is about as big as it's ever going to get. What we try to do is have some variations of things that we normally do. To take advantage of what we anticipate the defense doing. As a result, we just didn't execute as well as, like, if the playbook was shorter and it's very, very basic.
So I don't think I did a good job communicating the adjustments, and the kids didn't execute them really well. And you've got to step up at tournament time. We had several players that struggled today. And you're not going to beat teams as talented as LSU when that's the case.

Q. Bruce, is that as good as you've had one player play against you this year, what he did tonight?
BRUCE PEARL: He was a dominant factor. I think Durant, probably was a dominating player. I think probably because if he's not out there rebounding those misses, I think our chances of winning go up.
Yeah, it was probably right there as dominating a performance. It's certainly a tremendous effect on the outcome, and the fact that he went to the foul line and converted so well.

Q. Bruce, very physical in the paint, it looked like they got advantage in there. How concerned are you as you go forward about that aspect?
BRUCE PEARL: We're going to face that. They're bigger than us in every position, but we're used to that. That's why we try to turn people over more. But you know, we didn't shoot it real well. We had some guys -- I tell you what, our bench did really well. For our bench to have 34 points and a number of the guys really stepped up coming off the bench. You really can't -- it would be more like 24 with Ramar, because he's normally a starter. I was glad to see some of those guys play well off the bench. But it's March, and we did not take advantage of the position we put ourselves in through the grueling regular season.

Q. Coach, can you just talk about the final possession. I think you got the ball with six seconds left, didn't get much of a shot. What was called there?
BRUCE PEARL: We were calling a flat screen, but a flat screen much higher than we normally run it. And we didn't execute it well at all. My fault for not getting us a better look. It wasn't at all what we called.
I think part of it, too, was having the ball in Ramar's hands. I really wanted Ramar to make the play and go to the basket. He was supposed to get a flat screen, it went from Wayne, the screen never came. Ramar never took it to the rim, and we got a pitiful look.

Q. Coach, I just wondered, did you think pace of play, especially the first half, affected your guys' play at all?
BRUCE PEARL: I think the faster it went, the better off we were. You know, LSU was patient. You know, they only got 49 shots off. They got 11 offensive rebounds, and I'll bet you several of those led to shots. They did a good job of being patient.
You know, we didn't score enough ourselves to be able to get the press up often enough to be able to pick the pace of the game up.

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