The Tennessee Vols went 1-1 this past weekend in the Hall of Fame Cheez-It Tip-off Tournament, beating North Carolina to finish third.

Tennessee has an easier schedule coming up in late November and early December, as they do not faced a ranked opponent for the next six matchups. 

However, Barnes knows he needs to keep his team sharp and improve in areas of focus. 

The 15th ranked Vols face off with Tennessee Tech this Friday at 3:30 p.m ET, and head coach Rick Barnes discussed the matchup during Wednesday’s availability.

Everything Barnes said on Wednesday is below.

On what he's thankful for and his favorite Thanksgiving foods…
"Well, I'm thankful for a lot of things. I've been blessed. I thank God for bringing so many wonderful people in my life. Certainly the sacrifice He made for me is the greatest thing I can be grateful for. You know, Thanksgiving, it's hard to pick one (food) because I like it all. I like turkey, I like ham, I like pecan pie, I like pumpkin pie, I like great gravy. So that's a tough one to answer, because I like it all."

On how Kennedy Chandler and Zakai Zeigler played together against North Carolina…
"I'm not sure how I thought it would go, other than the fact that I do watch them go at each other every day in practice. They do complement each other in different ways. But having the three of them (Chandler, Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi) out there together (in practice), we don't get to do much because we need them competing against each other in practice. Not only is it what Zakai and Kennedy did, but Santi. The way he rebounded the ball was phenomenal. I mean, he gave us as much rebounding from that third spot as you could ask. But we don't get to see them together a lot in practice like that because one of them is going to run the other team for the most part, when we're really competing. But it's good to see the way they all did mesh."

On the status of Josiah-Jordan James
"We're still waiting to see. Chad (Newman) is still doing some work with them. Of course, Jo, nobody is more diligent and resilient in terms of trying to do what he does to get ready. But we're still not really sure where he is."

On Victor Bailey Jr. not playing as much against North Carolina…
"It was the fact that I think that's going to be our team this year a lot. There are going to be nights when some guys have a little bit more than others. That's what we'll ride that night. VJ, again, he's such a hard worker. He'll come back and he did, like you would expect, he was a great teammate. Pulled for those guys and will continue to do that. But he came back to practice and does what he does every day. I've said before, no one is going to put any more work in than VJ does. But it really was the fact that those three guys had it going. And we just knew that's what we needed to do that particular day. Every game is going to have its different personality. Every game does. So based on what that personality brings from that game, that's who we'll be playing."

On Justin Powell starting against North Carolina with Josiah-Jordan James out…
"We wanted to make sure we still had some length out there. That was really the reason there. We felt like we needed to have some more length on the floor at that time."

On what he's seen from Justin Powell through four games…
"He did play his best game defensively since he's been here (against North Carolina). He has improved there. And he will continue to improve. Justin is just getting going. We need him to really get himself in position on the defensive end to make good defensive plays, especially without the ball. He does know what we're doing. He's a terrific passer. But I would say for most of our guys, what we're looking at is to get the consistency on the defensive end."

On Brandon Huntley-Hatfield against North Carolina…
"It was a different game. Again, you go back to the Villanova game and that's a hard game for big guys, especially a young big guy, to play against a team that's got a lot of experience coming back from a year ago. And a team that is pretty much in midseason form. Whereas you go up against North Carolina, they're playing traditionally bigger players. We told Brandon the night before the (North Carolina) game, this is a good game for you. We're going to find out a lot about what you need to do. I do feel like, and we feel like, he was comfortable playing in that game because of where he was able to stay on the court, with who he was defending most of the time."

On how good it was to have those games…
"I think it was really good. I do think that is why these early season games are important. Obviously, disappointed in the way we started the game against Villanova. But you have to give them credit. I think they came out, they were locked and loaded and ready to play. I think we were, too. I think in some ways, we were a little overhyped there. We couldn't make a shot. Then we got to where we weren't even trying to play basketball. We were just hoping we'd make a shot. That was the big takeaway from that game. We came back against North Carolina and we really did do a lot of the things that we work on every day. It was a different team. Every game has a different personality. We did look more like how we practice every day against North Carolina."

On what he learned in Tennessee's games against Villanova and North Carolina…
"One of the biggest things I think was after the loss to Villanova, we went back in and obviously the first part of that day was based on us and what we didn't do and why we got ourselves in the position we got ourselves in. A little bit on North Carolina the day before the game. When we walked in on Sunday morning, the focus with our guys was phenomenal. With the walkthrough, we just simply go in the ballroom and take down the court. The coaches do their job with the scouting report and the way those guys were locked in and with the questions they were asking, it was impressive, especially because it wasn't just the older guys. We knew at that point in time that Josiah wasn't going to play. Josiah is normally one of those guys that leads in those questions. Santi and some of the younger guys, you could tell they were really locked in, which was impressed."

On Uros Plavsic's tendency to foul…
"You guys watch us practice some. He is trying too hard. There is no doubt he is wanting to do the right thing. He lets his emotions get the best of him some. It is only out of a good spirit to do the job that we ask him to do. You would like to think the more he plays that he is going to figure it out. If he doesn't, all the work he puts in, he is not going to get to use it because he is going to be on the bench because of fouls."

On Tennessee's coaching staff turnover…
"I think they have done a great job with that. You tell me that and I don't feel like it at all. You feel like the new guys have been here because they came right in. When they asked me and we talked about roles might be, I said be who you are. We have done our background checks on you. We know you can coach basketball. You have something to add, bring it up and add it. They have all done a terrific job. Our scouting has been very consistent for our players. That is a tribute to them. They have sat down with Mike (Schwartz) and the guys that have been here because we want it consistent across the board. From the scouting standpoint, coaching standpoint, I would tell you it feels like we have been together for a long time."

This article first appeared on FanNation Volunteer Country and was syndicated with permission.

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