Missouri 75, Tennessee 64: Struggling Missouri adds to Vols’ road woes
“I think the most important thing that went on here today was what Missouri did for Rhyan Loos. It’s unbelievable that they would do that. I’ve always had great respect for the University of Missouri and their fans. To have a fundraiser like that, for obviously that disease that we all hate, that was the biggest win of all.
“I think you have to give the Missouri basketball team all the credit. I thought they came out knowing it was a game they could win. I know what it’s like to struggle when you haven’t won games in a while.
“Every time we would try to get back in the game we would have some missed free throws or turnovers, those type things.
“The bottom line is, if it wasn’t for our zone turning them over … then they shot, you look at their (shooting percentages), they were great.
“One of the big things we thought we couldn’t do coming in is let them get to the free-throw line. Again, they did a great job. You have to give them credit.
“Certainly, I’ve got a lot of respect for Kim (Anderson), and I know he’s walked into a tough situation here. But they certainly made the right to get it turned around. I know a lot about this program, the great tradition they have, and he’s going to restore it back to where people here want to see it.”
On Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg
“We normally play five guards, but when we play zone we like (Kyle Alexander) back there. I think Kyle is going to be terrific for us. He’s only been playing basketball for two years. I mean, literally only two years. We’re watching him get better and better.
“When (Rosburg) was scoring there we had some blown assignments. In our zone, we’re always looking to double the post and we doubled the short corner. Early Kyle let them walk up the lane when we were man (defense).
“We’re not surprised when people really look to go inside. We’ve had trouble with that all year. We’re the kind of team, we can’t be relying on two or three guys every night.
“We haven’t been good on the road because we haven’t gotten consistent play. We don’t know what we’re going to get from certain guys and it shows up. It gets down to having that competitive spirit, and we don’t have enough of it when we need it on the road.
“When we got it down to a working number there we missed key free throws, some huge free throws. (Kevin) Punter and Armani (Moore), free throws were big at the time. We got in the open court and should’ve had easy plays. I think we ended up (shooting a 3) when we missed one of the layups.
“A couple big offensive rebounds we gave up. Then another crucial play, I thought we kind of had them a little out of sorts, then we fouled with four seconds left on the shot clock. That was a big play. When you’re fighting uphill, those plays mount up on you.”
On missing 10 free throws
“We’ve been good at it all year. I can’t tell you. Armani has struggled.
“We start the game doing what we exactly what we want. Then the second possession Armani puts his head down and throws up a shot that he’s not going to make. Then he drove it one other time.
“We just gave away some possessions we don’t give away. You expect Kevin (to make free throws). What was Kevin shooting, 80-something percent from the free-throw line? And he has a tough day.
“It’s the timing of all of it. When we had a chance to get (the lead) down, put some pressure on them, we just kept giving them enough breathing room. We couldn’t mount the kind of pressure we wanted to.
“The free-throw line, again, they were 22-for-30. Anytime you can make almost more than the other team shoots (24), you’re going to win a lot of it there. Then you look at the field goal percentage. They shot the ball well.
“The only things that kept it close was we turned them over. I think there were a little confused with our zone. We still had some chances but we didn’t make the winning plays when we had to and they did.”
On message to his team after the loss
“I just told them, again, I don’t know why anybody would get worried about us coming on the road. You look at our record.
“It goes back, I mean, you go down our lineup. I think Kyle is doing a lot for us. KP’s free throws are huge there. Shembari I thought did a good job today. Baulk (Devon Baulkman), you look at his line, it looks pretty good other than he only had one rebound.
“Ray (Kasongo) played eight minutes, no rebounds. Robert Hubbs, a guy that I’ve said before should be our second leading scorer, plays 19 minutes, has one rebound, has two points, two turnovers. And a big turnover. Admiral plays, what, seven minutes? Doesn’t do much. Detrick, guys we’re counting on, eleven minutes, doesn’t do much. Derek was in there trying to rest Kyle and that’s when Rosburg really went to work on us a little bit more in there. When Kyle’s in there we have a better chance in the low post.
“We just need everybody to play. It goes back, we’ve simply put too much on certain guys and we need other guys to help us.”
On the frustrations that come with inconsistency
“It’s frustrating. It really is. I think as coaches, if we knew what we we’re going to get … and certain things you want to get. We have to rebound the ball. You can’t look down and see certain guys you’re counting on.
“We’re small anyway. And the best games we’ve played this year are when we rebound the ball collectively, as a group.
“Again, our rebounding today was 41-26 (Missouri). You look at certain guys that don’t do that for us. It’s frustrating, it is.
“That’s why you don’t take playing hard for granted. I think playing hard is a talent. Not everybody plays hard. Not everybody can figure out what it is they can do well and can’t do well. But there is certain things that have to be non-negotiable. That’s your effort on the boards, in the zone, coming over (and helping on defense) and doing your job, basically.
“We just aren’t consistent with everybody doing that. And we have to have that as a group.
“The question is why do teams play well at home, as opposed to on the road. I think it’s confidence, but more than confidence I think it’s toughness. I think to be a really good road team you have to be really tough, tough-minded.
On players not staying with the game plan early in games
“I think it goes back to not understanding what goes into losing. I think you have to understand what goes into losing, too. Everybody talks about what you have to do to win.
“(Armani Moore) has played enough to know those are empty possessions. Again, we want him to do it. We don’t care if he takes the right three at the right time, but he takes some at the most inopportune time for him, when we haven’t scored.
“At some point in time you have to know your teammates and know we’ve gone three possessions without scoring. We got to get something good here.
“There are a lot of guys that are open by design. Believe me, we leave certain guys open hoping they shoot it. The (Missouri) guy that hit two today, I don’t know if he’s hit two (threes) this year, has he? Hadn’t hit any from the corner. And he had two that went in and out. Those were shots that were too easy. We didn’t bump off them when we needed to.
“Still, I think it gets back to being competitively tough on the road. I just don’t think we’ve shown it but one time this year. We’ve shown it early, gone on the road and played well early. But later on, we haven’t done as well. It goes back to what you’re saying. Scouting report, not putting them on the free-throw line and we did. Reaching fouls, stupid fouls. Can’t foul with four seconds left on the (shot) clock, stuff like that.”
On if fatigue is a factor this time of year
“I think we’ve rested them, we’ve done that. I think some guys, Kevin, we put a lot on him, but still, he hasn’t played well the last three games. He’s gotten himself in foul trouble. It goes back, when he’s really playing well he’s running our offense. And he’s scoring his points.
“I’ve said to you guys before, we don’t run a lot of set plays for him. When he was scoring 25, 30 points a game, we weren’t running set plays for him. It was all happening in the flow of our offense. But he’s a guy that’s got to get it going. And we can’t get it going when we’re making quick, poor decisions in transition. Putting our head down, driving, not getting the ball moving.
“I don’t think fatigue (is a factor). I think this time of year what you’re playing for and hoping your seniors, your seniors have to give you that leadership when you come down the stretch. Some of these guys have never gone through this. We have to get better leadership and got to keep going with it, get our seniors to do that for us.”
KEVIN PUNTER JR.
“It’s rough anytime you go on the road and lose.
“We’ve got to stick to the game plan. That’s it, really.
“I don’t really have much to say. I’m not going to lie to you.”
“I missed what, four (free throws)? I missed way too many. I shoot it too much to come up to the free-throw line and miss.”
“It’s just me coming into the game with a defensive mindset, taking open shots.
“We have to continue to stick to the game plan, execute our plans. At the end of the day we need everybody to do their work and jobs.
“We just have to go into the game, stick to the game plan and scouting report. Defend and bring energy.
“It’s really aggravating. We spend so much time in the gym. In big times, we need to knock those down. We have to continue to keep working. Be positive.
“It’s just a mind thing at the end of the day. We practice it a lot. It’s just something we have to overlook and do better the next game.”
Grant Ramey covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at twitter.com/GrantRamey