Jarnell Stokes might have picked the wrong time to ask his team to "run the floor" more.
After Saturday's loss to Kentucky, where failing to play quickly hurt Tennessee, the Vols will welcome the fast-paced, offensively-potent Arkansas Razorbacks to Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip.
The Razorbacks lead the SEC in points per game (83.3), scoring margin (plus-14.5) and assists (16.1) thanks to their constant efforts in dominating the transition game. They toppled Kentucky in overtime on Jan. 14 but fell to Georgia in overtime over the weekend.
"They are a very good 3-point shooting team and they play fast," Stokes said before Tuesday's practice. "They can control the game as far as making you turn the ball over."
The junior forward said after the Kentucky game that he wants his team to push the ball more. Not doing so in the second half, he added, was the difference in the game.
UT head coach Cuonzo Martin wondered if he relayed that to the Vol point guards.
"I like that," Martin said of Stokes' post-game thoughts. "Well, he has his point guards. Did he tell them that?"
Apparently, he has.
"Yeah, I definitely express that to them," Stokes said. "I tell them all of the time. But I guess coach Martin wants me to fight someone. I don't think that's my behavior — to fight a teammate.
"But he's really been stressing me to tell them, because he feels as if my opinion, or voice, carries more."
Martin and his players made it apparent that Arkansas' style will not affect the tempo Tennessee features on Wednesday. But steering clear of turnovers will be a major point of focus.
The Vols have averaged nearly 15 turnovers per game in their four SEC appearances, and cutting that number down would be a welcomed asset for starting point guard Antonio Barton and Tennessee.
"That's going to make a huge difference in this game," Barton said. "We have to take care of the ball. We're a team that likes to run, too, but we can't turn the ball over when we get out and run."
Whether UT can answer Arkansas' tempo with its own is yet to be determined. But one thing seems certain — the Vols should own the glass.
The Razorbacks rank 13th in the SEC in rebounding margin, while the Vols rank second and are coming off a 39-24 boards advantage against Kentucky.
"We should be in pretty good shape rebounding-wise," Stokes said. "The (Razorbacks) lack size and length, so I feel like we will be able to dominate them inside the paint."
The Vols can talk tempo and rebounding all they want, but as Barton said, it will come down to the "little things."
"It's going to be a real fast-paced game," Barton said, "but it's going to come down to the little things — defending, taking care of the ball and just getting stops."