Tempers flared on Wednesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena after the Tennessee Vols beat the Florida Gators 78-71.
The post-game handshake line between the Vols and the Gators got a bit testy. And Tennessee players mocked the “Gator Chomp”. Fortunately, things didn’t get out of hand, but it was still obvious there was some tension between the two programs.
Things got quite heated in the postgame handshake line between Tennessee and Florida. pic.twitter.com/eoHPaEGGQ9
— Karthik Venkataraman (@KarthikV_) January 27, 2022
After the game, Vols head coach Rick Barnes made it clear that he wasn’t happy with Tennessee’s conduct post-game.
“There’s always chirping going on in a game, I told our team after the game that I understand being competitive and getting after it, but we’re going to have a class program,” said Barnes. “There are sometimes where you just have to move on.”
“I get it. I played the game once so I get it, I do. But we’re going to do things in a classy way. We got one with Uros talking to the other team’s bench — that’s not going to happen. I don’t want any player on our team disrespecting any other coaching staff. Being immature is what I call it. We’re going to be classy in the way we do things. Do I want to play with emotions and fire? Absolutely, but we’re not going to get technical fouls.”
Barnes didn’t put the blame totally on his team, by the way. He acknowledged that Florida played their part.
“We don’t need it, but again, some of it was both teams going at it,” explained Barnes. “Think about it, that’s what got Santi on the bench. That double-technical foul was his second technical. I think this time of year, we’re at the end of January and things start heating up right now.”
There are plenty of opinions out there on Barnes and whether or not he’s an elite basketball coach. That’s a conversation we’ve essentially been having for two years at this point. And I’m not sure we’ll ever get an answer that appeases everyone.
But as far as being a human being, there’s no doubt that Barnes is an elite person. He runs his program with class. That’s always been the case.
Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK