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Rick Barnes discusses rebounding margin, turnovers against Kentucky

Barkley-Truaxby:Barkley Truax01/15/23

BarkleyTruax

When you’re playing against Oscar Tshiebwe, it’s not easy to win the rebounding margin over Kentucky, even the best rebounding teams will have their hands full.

Tennessee – who ranks No. 2 in team rebounding margin nationally – found that out the hard way as UK outrebounded the Vols 43-23 on Saturday as the Wildcats defeated No. 5 Tennessee 63-56.

“We still have too many guys that think offense, as opposed to understanding the role they have on the team. Give (Kentucky) credit. They came in and that was obviously a big part of their game plan,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said postgame. “They look at those numbers just like everybody. They’re going to say we’re not going to get beat on the boards. And they thoroughly beat us on the backboard.”

It wasn’t just on the defensive glass where Kentucky dominated. Not only did Tennessee lose the offensive rebound margin 13-4, but Tshiebwe alone also had as many offensive boards as the Vols did the entire afternoon. Those second-chance opportunities turned into 12 points for Kentucky throughout the contest.

The Wildcats led by as many as nine points in the first half. UK played some of its best defense of the season during the opening 20, creating nine turnovers of which the ‘Cats created 11 points. After the game, Barnes expressed his disappointment in his team’s ball security.

“We turned it over, way too many in the first half. Just turnovers – you can’t have when we maybe had a chance to get a little rhythm first half and broke down. They had a couple of different guys in the first half that carried them,” Barnes said. “Second half, they had more than (Oscar) Tshiebwe carrying them. Just give them credit.

“There are obviously a lot of things I’m disappointed with our guys. But you have to give Kentucky all the credit in the world. Coming off obviously a tough loss and they won the game. They won it.”

Tshiebwe finished with his nightly double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 boards. Kentucky’s sharpshooting wings CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves combined for 31 points and five three-pointers against the Vols as well.

The loss ends Tennessee’s five-game winning streak and undefeated SEC record. The Vols will next travel to Mississippi State on Tuesday to take on the Bulldogs in Starkville. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET live on ESPN2.