Tennessee took their first loss of the season on Saturday, dropping a home game to the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Volunteers struggled particularly on the offensive end, shooting just 19 percent from three-point range and leaving plenty of points on the table at the free throw stripe.
Making things even more difficult was the absence of Jaden Springer, who played just five minutes before exiting the game with an ankle injury. He was described as being day-to-day following the game, which could force Rick Barnes and the Tennessee staff to do some different things in the next game or two.
After the loss, Barnes admitted he was open to shaking things up, regardless of Springer’s status.
“I may change the lineup, do some things,” Barnes said. “Even John Fulkerson. As far as I’m concerned guys can take his minutes. He’s been around long enough; he’s got to bring more than he brought today. He’s got to do it.”
Fulkerson played just 26 minutes on Saturday, shooting 2-5 from the field and hitting 3-8 free throws. Drew Pember got some playing time in the first half, while the Vols ended up going small with Yves Pons at the five spot for a big stretch in the second half. Keon Johnson played a career-high 30 minutes in the loss after Springer’s injury.
Barnes has stuck with his veterans in the starting lineup to this point in the season, but he sounded like a man trying to light a fire under his team last night after the game.
“We never got to play Yves and John a lot together because of Yves’ foul situation, or the fact that John couldn’t guard anybody,” Barnes said.
Classic Coach Barnes there.
Tennessee gets a tough Arkansas team in Knoxville on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET. We’ll see if Springer is able to go — and how Fulkerson responds after a tough night against the Tide.