“It was a tough game. We did not do what we needed to do. We did not take care of the ball and we didn’t rebound in the second half. We had a couple of bad breaks there at the end, but there is not much you can do about it.
On Tennessee’s second-half aggressiveness... “I thought they were trying to do that in the first half, we just did a better job guarding it. I thought that was their intent the entire game. In the second half, they got us in transition and we had some breakdowns. We weren’t as good with our assignments in the second half as we could have been, and they took advantage of it.
On guarding Scotty Hopson... “He just made some plays. There were times we broke down or somebody got caught in transition where he really had no resistance.
On what happened the final 10 minutes... “I am not really sure about that. We didn’t finish the job and that is really disappointing. It’s becoming a little bit of a common theme.”
Acting Tennessee head coach Tony Jones
“To come back from 17 down to win that game shows the character of this team. I talked to the team about how enough is enough. Enough is enough. You’re a talented basketball team with talented players and you’re coming up short. Enough is enough. I had a few choice words for them. They responded. They came out and played Tennessee basketball.
“It was an unbelievable crowd with 21,000 in the house, Dickie V (Dick Vitale) in the house, College GameDay in the house. Our fans showed the type of fans they are, no question the best in the country. They proved that today.
“We shot 49 percent in the second half. I told the team it was an aberration shooting 20 percent in the first half. Guys were just so pumped and jacked up before the game. I was kind of afraid of that on the offensive end. Defensively, I thought we gave the effort except for a couple of runouts they got in transition. We didn’t identify with John Jenkins early on the floor. He was a key problem for us. But I knew we would make shots the way guys were pumped up. Scotty (Hopson), who might be one of the best athletes in the country, misses a dunk. Then they went on, one of the coaches told me, what might have been a 15-2 run. I don’t know what it was.
“Obviously, Brian Williams was huge for us, especially in the second half with eight offensive rebounds. He scored the basketball. I got mad at Brian in the first half because we called a play for him, to give the ball to him in the low block to try and get (Festus) Ezeli in foul trouble and he passed it out. Subsequently, he takes a short jump shot. That was unacceptable and I let him know. He responded to the challenge in the second half.
“Skylar McBee came up huge for us. We need him. We know what type of dimension he can be for us as coaches, and that’s the reason he’s continuing to play. We’re not giving up on him, and this particular day he came up big with 10 points and three steals.
“We didn’t have to make very many adjustments defensively. I was happy with Vandy shooting 37 percent in the first half with however many dunks. That’s a formula to win basketball games. If Vandy scores 60 points, we’re going to beat them. I just told them to relax. We did some things offensively. We tried to spread the floor a little bit more. I knew we were going to make shots; they knew we were going to make shots. I told them to just relax. Forget that Dickie V is here or College GameDay is here or a national audience is watching. They did a good job of coming out in the second half.
“I told them I was happy for them and how they responded. Our goal is to win an SEC championship and to be 0-3, I don’t know if that could have happened. I told them that your head coach, Bruce Pearl, would be extremely happy watching the game at his home because you exemplified his skills of having a never-say-die approach. And I told them get ready for the Georgia Bulldogs on Tuesday.
“One thing I also told the team is the reason we won that basketball game is because we cut that deficit to 10 at halftime. Seventeen would have been tougher to come back from. When we cut it to 10, it was manageable. We came out with a lot of spirit in the second half and made some field goals.”