Verbal jabs: Memphis' Hardaway criticizes Tennessee's Barnes


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The verbal jabs between Memphis coach Penny Hardaway and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes continued Tuesday with Hardaway saying “it was kind of low class” for the Vols coach to imply the Tigers were flopping during their game on Saturday.

“I don’t know who Rick Barnes thinks I am, but I’m not a dude who likes to mess around about anything,” Hardaway said during his media availability Tuesday afternoon. “I just call it how I see it, no matter how he’s trying to make things seem. I think it’s kind of low class, how he’s trying to downgrade my guys for flopping and all that. Come on, give me a break.”

Tennessee won 102-92 at Memphis on Saturday in the first meeting between these two teams since Jan. 4, 2013. With 47.8 seconds left during a timeout, officials gave double-technicals to Tennessee guard Jordan Bone and Memphis guard Alex Lomax.

Hardaway said after the game that Bone said something disrespectful, setting off a sequence that included the Memphis coach not getting an answer about why the Vols didn’t get a technical for leaving the bench. Also during his postgame news conference, Hardaway said Tennessee’s “entire team emptied the bench to come over” and that “you can visibly see guys with their fists balled, talking trash to our guys or whatever it was, almost like a standoff.”

Barnes said Monday night during his radio show that he didn’t “think anybody did anything that was overly aggressive.”

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“I will say this, no one showed me any tape where any of our guys had their fists balled up,” Barnes said.

Barnes also joked about Hardaway’s allegations during the show, asking host Bob Kesling if he ever considered balling up his fist and fighting Memphis’ radio broadcaster during the game.

The Tennessee coach also expressed his displeasure Tuesday morning about Hardaway calling out one of his players.

“I didn’t like that (Hardaway calling out Jordan Bone by name) obviously because I don’t think you do that, but the fact is you guys know I kid with Bob and I’ll always do that, but that game’s over with, done with,” Barnes said during his media session. “We’ve got to get on down the road. We’ve got a really tough opponent (Samford) in here (Wednesday) night and we’ve got to get ready for that.”

Barnes didn’t mention Memphis players flopping during his Saturday postgame news conference, though he did note on his Monday night radio show that college basketball doesn’t have penalties for flopping and that “it’s something we’ll have to look at in NCAA basketball.”

Hardaway felt Barnes’ comments were directed at his team.

“As far as flopping, that’s not something that we teach,” Hardaway said Tuesday. “We don’t even understand that term.”

There were 57 fouls called during the Tennessee-Memphis game — 35 on Memphis and 22 on Tennessee.

Tennessee athletic department spokesman Tom Satkowiak said the school wouldn’t be issuing a response to Hardaway’s comments Tuesday.

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Saturday’s game was the first in a three-year contract between Tennessee and Memphis. They’re scheduled to play again next season in Knoxville and in 2020-21 in Nashville.


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