Pearl on poise

Seeing his team lose a ball game last Thursday against Oklahoma State didn't bother Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl nearly as much as seeing his team lose its poise.

Down 79-71 with 5:02 to play, the Vols appeared to panic a bit, jacking up one errant 3-pointer after another. As a result, they went four minutes without scoring, during which time OSU expanded the lead from eight points to 16 (87-71).

Pearl thought the prohibitively pro-Cowboy crowd in Oklahoma City contributed to Tennessee's late-game futility but shouldered most of the blame himself.

"We talked about poise," he said on his post-game show. "I knew with this crowd we'd be challenged. I thought the fact we battled back (trimming a 16-point halftime deficit to one) showed we had some poise and confidence. But the last five or six minutes of the game, when the lead got to be eight, we started jacking shots up.

"We were poorly coached. Those are not the shots I want."

Pearl conceded that the 3-point basket is a great weapon when a team is significantly behind with time running out. Or, as he put it: "You've got to jack a few up there when you're down bigger than that."

But, down by just eight points with five minutes remaining, his team still had plenty of time to rally vs. OSU without firing from downtown.

"Let's just get a two-point basket, let's get a stop," he said.

Although UT's late-game shot selection allowed the deficit to mushroom in the final minutes – 89-73 was the final score – Pearl is confident his troops learned from that experience.

As he put it: "You've got to go through it, so they can see that."

Tennessee (6-1) will be looking to bounce back Tuesday night, hosting Alabama A&M (2-3) at 7:30 in Thompson-Boling Arena.

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