Tennessee basketball got a tone-setting moment courtesy of LSU before the game started Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
A handful of Vols players and a coach and some LSU staffers — three coaches and a staff member — had a verbal kerfuffle next to the scorer's table after the LSU staff member apparently threw a basketball into the stands during pregame warmups.
“I don’t worry about that,” forward Uros Plavsic said. “I really don’t. They do what they do. They wanted to win the fight. We wanted to win the basketball game. We did what we wanted to do. I think we did both actually.”
No. 25 Tennessee (13-5, 4-3 SEC) topped No. 16 LSU 64-50 in a game that featured multiple physical moments and a double-technical as the teams went to halftime.
The tension started pregame.
“One of our guys said, ‘Stop doing that,’ ” Vols coach Rick Barnes said after a basketball was tossed into the stands. “I don’t know the whole deal of it. Some people came together.”
The ESPN broadcast showed a brief clip of the event during its broadcast after the first testy in-game moment. Vols assistant coach Rod Clark, guard Kennedy Chandler and Plavsic appeared to express their displeasure with the LSU staff member.
LSU associate head coach Bill Armstrong, assistant coach Tasmin Mitchell and director of player development Vernon Hamilton got in between the unnamed staff member and a handful of Vols. Forward Jonas Aidoo was next to Plavsic.
Guard Zakai Zeigler came over briefly before the situation was cleared out. Strength and conditioning coach Garrett Medenwald started to separate the situation, while director of basketball operations Mary-Carter Eggert played peacemaker and ushered the Vols away.
Guard Santiago Vescovi and forwards Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Olivier Nkamhoua helped pull their teammates back.
Then Tennessee took out the frustration on the court, racing to a 14-0 lead and snapping a four-game losing streak against LSU.
“I think that definitely set the tone,” Vescovi said. “It was a reminder for us about how the game went at LSU and definitely helped us to start with a lot more energy and fight for ourselves.”
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com 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: What happened before Tennessee basketball vs. LSU in pregame skirmish?