UT's Melvin Goins talks about UConn's Kemba Walker
UT coach Bruce Pearl discusses loss to UConn
Pearl was happy to be back on the bench coaching, excited to see his Vols take a lead, disappointed to see them squander it, and angry about how No. 8 Connecticut ultimately pulled away with the 72-61 win.
But by the time the UT post-game radio show aired on the Vol Network, Pearl had settled down and was calm and analytical.
"You've got to keep losing at UConn to UConn in perspective,'' Pearl said after leaving the news conference and heading to the radio program. "We're still in position to do everything we want to do.''
That starts with winning the SEC East Division.
Tennessee (12-7, 2-2 SEC) returns to action at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Thompson-Boling Arena against LSU (10-9, 2-2).
Pearl hinted there might be more changes in the rotation for the Vols, though the starting lineup is expected to remain status quo.
"There are some things I'll take a look at,'' Pearl said.
UT freshman forward Tobias Harris, the most consistent performer on the team this season, said the team could use some self-introspection.
"As a team we have to look at ourselves and ask why we're struggling,'' Harris said. "We've got to start coming out and taking care of our business.''
Harris and senior point guard Melvin Goins were the only two UT players made available after Saturday's game.
Both were asked about Pearl's return to the bench after missing the past four games while serving an eight-game SEC suspension, and if Pearl's suspension and return is having any effect.
"It's been a little tough (without Pearl); you do get used to a certain way of doing things,'' Goins said. "But we were glad to have him back today.''
Harris said different or not, it shouldn't matter.
"I don't think it's a distraction,'' he said. "Coach Pearl and Coach (Tony) Jones aren't out there playing the game.
"Saying it's a distraction is using that as an excuse.''
Pearl has four SEC games left in his suspension. Jones will coach against LSU.
More On McRae: UT freshman Jordan McRae was suspended indefinitely Saturday for what Pearl called a violation of team conduct.
Team sources, speaking on a condition of anonymity because UT will not release the reason, said McRae got into a verbal altercation with a teammate.
McRae used language that was not acceptable on the team bus when it was returning from a trip to the ESPN studios following Friday's practice.
RPI: The Vols' loss to UConn did little to damage the team's RPI ranking, which is now No. 17 in the nation according to RealTimeRpi.com. UT's schedule strength is No. 1.
The RPI takes into consideration wins and losses, the opponents, and the opponents of opponents.
The Vols' RPI ranking will likely drop in the next two weeks even if Tennessee wins.
LSU, UT's next opponent, has an RPI of 185, and next weekend's opponent, Ole Miss, has an RPI of 72.
The following week, the Vols play Auburn (RPI 306 of 345 teams) and Alabama (RPI 134).
Kentucky has the highest RPI in the SEC (13), followed by UT (17), Vanderbilt (18) and Florida (19).