Asked about playing his career game with the home folks watching, he conceded that "Having 15 of my family members up there, this was a good night to pull it off…. But I wasn't going to force anything. I was just going to play as hard as I could, play with a lot of energy, and see what happened."
What happened was that Ryan Childress played like a man possessed in front of his kin.
"It was a little extra motivation," he conceded with a grin. "You don't want to slack too much when you've got your whole family up there. That's not the idea. But you do what you can within the system."
Though he was signed almost as an afterthought coming out of high school, Childress is proving to be an excellent fit for the system. He crashes the backboards, runs the floor well and plays tenacious defense. He can step outside and pop the occasional 3-pointer, too.
Childress was a key figure in the 19-0 explosion that turned a 29-26 deficit into a 45-29 Vol lead shortly before halftime. He hit a basket and two free throws during the run, while seemingly grabbing every rebound in sight. He finished the half with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in 10 incredibly productive minutes.
"That's what you've got to do coming off the bench," he said. "That's something me and Wayne (Chism) and Josh (Tabb) have really got to focus on. Your starters get popped in the first two or three minutes, so it's our job to come in there, be energetic and get things flowing.
"Tonight we did a decent job of it but I think we can still improve on it. Bringing energy has got to be our key focus."
Even if you don't have 15 close relatives watching.