KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee scored its first victory of the season, but Coach Rick Barnes made it clear his men’s basketball team has plenty left to work on.
“Our transition defense wasn’t what we wanted it to be, and rebounding, we’ve just got to be tougher,” Barnes said after the Vols’ 103-94 win over Appalachian State on Tuesday night.
“When we got the lead we didn’t take care of the ball,” said Barnes, whose team was up 23 points with six minutes left. “We talk about getting our defensive set, but I don’t think guys were getting back and getting the defense set.
“The Vols (1-1) led by 26 points over the Mountaineers (0-2) in the first half, too, only to see that lead dwindle to 12 by halftime before the crowd of 11,758 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“I thought our energy dropped,” Barnes said. “We got a lead, and being the team we are right now, we let down.
“We haven’t learned it’s a 40-minute game and we have to play every possession,” he said. “It goes back to being intense, being on edge and wanting to win every possession.”
Tennessee returns to action against No. 9-ranked Wisconsin (1-0) on Monday in the Maui Invitational.
“We did some good things offensively, but defensively, it’s hard,” Barnes said. “As bad as I think we are right now, we’re still better than a year ago.”