Tennessee Vols morning report: Rick Barnes, Kellie Harper talk wins vs. Vanderbilt

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Football season is over. No former Tennessee Vols were in the Super Bowl on Sunday as the Los Angeles Rams came back to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. That doesn’t mean this weekend wasn’t full of news for UT, and more of this is to come with both spring and winter sports in full swing.

Our morning update on Rocky Top for Valentine’s Day leads with continuing coverage of both the men’s and women’s basketball programs completing regular season sweeps of the Vanderbilt Commodores. We’ll discuss the postgame press conferences that took place on that front.

We had our own recap of the Tennessee Lady Vols’ start to the softball season, as they went 4-0 on the weekend, and you can read that here. Our story about a new Smokey coming in the fall can be read here. Men’s tennis, track and field and men’s golf also have events for us to cover. Let’s start, though, with the basketball news.

Rick Barnes, Zakai Zeigler, John Fulkerson talk Vanderbilt win – Ben McKee, VolQuest

On Saturday, the Tennessee Vols men’s basketball team beat the Vanderbilt Commodores at home 73-64. Josiah-Jordan James had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He also had two blocks. Rick Barnes, Zakai Zeigler and John Fulkerson spoke afterwards. Barnes talked about UT’s sluggish second half play after a dominant first half. Here’s a bit of what he said.

"“Obviously, the foul trouble hurt us but the whole time that we were up, I felt that they would try and make a push. I also felt like, at the start of the second half, we came out like it was just going to be a shooting contest.”"

Zeigler, who had 16 points, five assists, two steals and a block while foul trouble plagued Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi, the latter of whom had 10 points, talked about how the team recovered as Vandy came back in the second half. This is what he said about it.

"“We came out really lackadaisical in the second half. We came out looking like we were just going to win, it was going to be an easy game. Vandy fought back—they weren’t going to give it to us. They knew what they had to do. They executed. We just had to come together as a team and know we were not going to lose this game. We just had to do exactly what we had to do and up the pressure on defense.”"

Fulkerson, who had 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks off the bench, discussed beating Vandy 10 times in a row. Here is how he described it.

"“I didn’t know we beat them that many times in a row, but that’s good. It’s great for the state of Tennessee. I think this rivalry is great for the state. It brings a lot of people together. We just have to keep winning it.”"

Kellie Harper, players talk Vanderbilt win – Maria M. Cornelius, GoVols247

One day after Tennessee basketball swept Vanderbilt, the Tennessee Lady Vols completed a regular season sweep of the Commodores, winning 66-52. Kellie Harper, Sara Puckett, Rae Burrell and Jordan Horston all spoke after the game. Harper talked about the defense holding Vanderbilt to 14 points or less every quarter. Here’s a bit of what she said.

"“That’s putting together 40 minutes of solid defense. And I think any time they made some shots, we made a few adjustments with our personnel and with how we were guarding, and I thought it really was effective.”"

Horston, who had 16 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two steals, talked about winning the hustle plays. This is how she described it.

"“We always want to win all 50-50 balls. It is hard. It is toughness. Obviously, we do not want to be out-toughed. I feel like we are going to dive for it and go for every ball, because that is Tennessee basketball, and we take pride in it.”"

Burrell, who had 15 points, talked about having an impact as the primary scorer off the bench. This is what she said about it.

"“I’m just doing what the team needs me to do. It’s not about what I want. It is more about what the team needs.”"

Puckett was one of four players to score eight points along with Jordan Walker, Tamari Key and Alexus Dye. Key also had nine rebounds and five assists, while Puckett had seven rebounds off the bench. Here’s how Puckett described her role with the team.

"“We just continue to play what’s being played out there. We just bring momentum ourselves and bring it to the team. Hopefully, we’ll just continue to play hard.”"

Men’s tennis wins two games over weekend – UTSports

The No. 2 ranked Tennessee Vols men’s tennis team improved to 8-1 on the year with a pair of victories this past weekend. They beat the Charlotte 49ers 7-0 on Saturday and the Columbia Lions 4-3 on Sunday.

"With a pair of victories at the Goodfriend Tennis Center this weekend, Tennessee improves its home match win streak to 29 matches. The streak dates to January 2020 and the Vols are a perfect 7-0 at home to begin the dual slate this season."

Track and field breaks four records – Zach Ball, UT Daily Beacon

Over the weekend, the Tennessee Vols track and field program sent players to the Tyson Invite in Fayetteville, Ark., hosted by the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Music City Challenge in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by the Vanderbilt Commodores. They broke three records at the Music City Challenge and one at the Tyson Invite.

"Thirty-four Volunteers set personal records as eleven athletes sketched new top-10 positions inside the school record books. With only two weeks until the SEC Championships, the team continues to show an itch for improvement."

Men’s golf continues Puerto Rico Classic – GolfStat.com

Sunday marked the start of the spring season for the No. 8 ranked Tennessee Vols men’s golf team with the Puerto Rico Classic. UT finished the first day of the three-day event at 12-under and in a tie for fourth. They continue the event Monday.