Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The in-game skirmish between Tennessee basketball and Kentucky on Tuesday night gave Rick Barnes an idea.

The Vols coach quipped in a conversation with official Doug Shows that he would unleash UT strength and conditioning coach Garrett Medenwald on opponents.

“I told him if that’s the way it’s going to be, I’m going to get my trainer involved in every game, trying to get technical fouls on their team, if I can,” Barnes said.

Barnes’ jesting followed a contentious moment by the Wildcats’ bench early in Tennessee’s 76-63 win against Kentucky. Kentucky strength and conditioning coach Rob Harris and Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler drew technical fouls for their roles in the incident as UT players came to help John Fulkerson after he tumbled into the bench.

Barnes noted that outcome is not “really a good rule” because it affects the player more than the staffer.

“Our player gets a technical foul and what do you do for the trainer?” Barnes said. “He said well, nothing. That’s something the rules committee needs to talk about. They really do.”

[embedded content]

Fulkerson flew into the UK bench chasing a rebound after Zeigler missed a 3-pointer. The Vols on the court raced to the corner to help Fulkerson, who landed near the end of the Wildcats’ bench.

A Kentucky staffer tried to help Fulkerson up, while Harris stepped in front of Vescovi, who was the first Vol to get to Fulkerson. Zeigler bumped into Harris, who got in Zeigler’s face. Officials got between the pair as the Kentucky bench scrambled into the corner.

The momentum carried the players off the court with Vescovi and Kentucky’s Lance Ware getting pushed all the way behind the bench. Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James walked behind the UT fans seated on the baseline to get back to the court.

Officials reviewed the play and assigned technical fouls to Harris and Zeiger, whose technical foul also counted as his first personal foul.

“I don’t know what happened,” UT guard Kennedy Chandler said. “I just know Zakai had said someone shoved him, the strength and conditioning coach had shoved him. I was like, ‘Why did he shove you when you are trying to help Fulky?’”

Tennessee has had its share of chippy moments in the past month. The Vols had a pregame kerfuffle with LSU before Tennessee beat the Tigers. UT had a postgame brouhaha with Florida after a Gators player joked about Zeigler’s height.

The Vols haven’t shied away from a competitive attitude and that was the case Tuesday.

Tennessee trailed 17-15 at the 13:45 mark when the incident occurred. The Vols made 7 of 9 shots while Kentucky missed its next 11. The Vols went on a 17-1 run and bolted away from the Wildcats.

“Things like that, it pumps us up,” Chandler said. “Just like LSU, what happened at home here. It pumps us up I feel like. They gave us great energy and let us know they are not going to punk us. After that, we went on our spurt and that is when our run started going.”

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee basketball coach wants rule change after Kentucky scuffle