KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes doesn’t usually hide his emotions, and on Tuesday he didn’t hold back at all.
The Vols had just lost to Auburn at home, falling 94-84. The Tigers outrebounded the Vols 46-38 and attempted 16 more shots.
Tennessee now holds a 9-4 record but is 0-2 in the SEC. The team impressed on a national stage in the nonconference portion of the schedule, articularly in the 78-75 win over Purdue and the 78-73 loss to North Carolina.
Barnes made sure to point out that this team has yet to accomplish anything of substance.
“We’re too casual and tonight we played as a very casual, immature basketball team,” Barnes said. “A team that, really, we haven’t done anything. Everybody wanted to get excited when we were in non-league and all that.”
Tennessee was in a position to win the North Carolina game, but faltered down the stretch. It could have defeated Arkansas last Saturday, but lost 95-93 in overtime.
These are games the team might look back on in March and lament letting slip if the Vols are on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
When asked about when Barnes sees the casualness of his team, he responded with “every day.”
“We didn’t play as hard as we can play tonight,” Barnes said. “It’s casual, immature and ego. You can put any word you want to put on it. I watch it every day.”
Tennessee hosts Kentucky this weekend. There probably isn’t a must-win game in early January in college basketball, but this is probably as close as it gets.
Dropping the first three conference games will be a bad look come tournament time.
WMNL’s Josh Ward and SEC Country’s Blake Morgan discuss what’s going on with the team in today’s podcast.