Rick Barnes and the Tennessee Volunteers went to Baton Rouge on Saturday evening and lost 79-67 to the LSU Tigers.

Big man John Fulkerson was a non-factor in the game, scoring 3 points on 3-for-6 free-throw shooting, going 0-for-1 from the floor and recording 5 rebounds in 17 minutes of play.

After the game, Barnes had a strong message for the veteran big man — step up or step aside:


“We need John to help us,” Barnes said. “If not, he needs to step aside. I’m tellin’ ya. We need him. We’ve talked to him enough about it. He has to come out and know how people are playing him. But he can’t stand there with a team that we’ve talked about all week that’s going to reach, grab and poke at the ball and let the ball get away from his body.

“We keep talking to him about it, but he can’t. He plays too vertical. He’s got to get down. Again, I think it gets down to where he’s got to play tougher, harder, not gonna say more physical, because we’re not asking him to do that. But we are asking him to do what he needs to do to get himself into space and play.”

That’s a strong message to Fulkerson. Will he respond positively to being called out publicly by his coach?

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Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.