Jones' audition

Following his ejection from Friday's home-floor loss to College of Charleston, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl quipped that he was "just trying to get Tony Jones some reps."

All joking aside, getting the Vols' associate head coach some experience running the team wasn't a bad idea, since Jones soon will be serving as interim bench coach while Pearl is suspended from Tennessee's first eight SEC games.

Certainly, Friday's experience occurred under trying circumstances. When Pearl was ejected with 5:25 remaining, Tennessee trailed 79-63. Under Jones' direction, the Vols made a 15-8 run that trimmed the deficit to 87-78 with 1:29 remaining. They would not score again, though, ultimately losing 91-78.

Compared to the volatile Pearl, Jones is a low-key guy. Then again, compared to Pearl, who doesn't seem low-key? When asked about Jones' brief stint as the bench coach, however, several Vols praised his performance.

"I think he kept his poise," junior guard Scotty Hopson said. "You can see that he's been prepping for this opportunity. I think he's ready for it."

Asked about the disparity between Pearl's and Jones' personalities, Hopson laughed.

"Definitely. Definitely," he said. "But Coach Pearl has kept Coach Jones under his wing. That's his right-hand man. He (Jones) is preaching the same thing as Coach Pearl, as far as our defensive mindset and staying hungry. He's going to keep it pretty much the way Coach Pearl did it, except with his flavor."

Senior guard Josh Bone praised Jones' bench performance, as well.

"He did good. He just told us to keep pushing," Bone said. "He knew what we needed to run. Unfortunately, we didn't get it done for him but T-Jones is a great coach, too."

Although Jones isn't as vocal or fiery as Pearl, he exhibited equal focus and intensity during the final five minutes of Friday's game.

"I couldn't tell a big difference, especially in a game like that," Bone said. "It's no different. You just have to take coaching, no matter how it is or where it comes from."

Freshman Tobias Harris emphasized that Jones was not at all to blame for Friday's outcome.

"Coach Jones is a great coach but he can't come out there and play defense for us," Harris said after the Vols allowed Charleston to shoot 57.1 percent from the field and 56.0 percent from 3. "It's up to us to do that. He really wanted to win that game, and so did we. But we didn't do the right things."

When asked for his thoughts on the difference in personalities between Tennessee's head man and its associate head coach, Harris answered without hesitation:

"I wouldn't say there's too much of a difference. Both of 'em are great coaches who try to get the best out of us, and that's what both of 'em do."


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