DALLAS — Tennessee basketball applied lessons learned from the SEC Tournament to its first round matchup, and now a tougher test awaits on Saturday at American Airlines Center.
The No. 3-seed Vols dominated Wright State, 73-47, in their first postseason action in four years on Thursday.
“How about that?!” a joyful Phillip Fulmer said on his way to the Tennessee locker room to congratulate players and basketball support staff.
Fulmer, a bit more than three months into his tenure as athletic director, knows how to celebrate wins and titles with the best of them, 152-52 as a hall of fame football coach with the 1998 national title.
But Thursday it was the SEC co-champion basketball Vols dispatching with the Horizon League champs, and now Missouri Valley Conference champ Loyola Chicago stands in the way.
“The biggest thing we learned is that we’ve got to come out and be more consistent with the way we start and finish games,” Tennessee junior Admiral Schofield said. “We put ourselves in great position to win games. It’s the little things, the one or two possessions, taking care of the ball, takig care of the scouting report, execution, pressure on defense, ball-screen coverage.”
Some wondered how the nation’s fifth-youngest team would respond to their first-ever postseason action, and first trip to the Big Dance.
SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams explained the Vols’ mindset.
“It’s just like any tournament we’ve played in before, one game and you can be out,” Williams told SEC Country after Thursday’s game. “It’s really understanding that we have mini-tournaments every weekend coming up, and we have to keep our bodies sound and stay aggressive.”
Indeed, center Kyle Alexander said no one in the locker room is 100 percent this time of year, so treatment and rest is crucial.
Tennessee basketball: Game info, details
- Time: Tipoff is at 6:10 p.m. ET, March 17, 2018
- Location: America Airlines Center, Dallas
- Records: Tennessee 26-8; Loyola Chicago 29-5
How can I watch the Tennessee basketball game?
The game can be watched on TNT
How can I live stream the Tennessee basketball game?
The game can be seen a variety of ways without cable through “Bundles.” Here are a couple of articles describing the different ways to watch Tennessee without cable: Cordcutting and watching TNT;
How can I listen to the Tennessee basketball game?
The game will air on the Vol Sports Network
Projected Vols starting lineup
- Point guard: Sophomore Jordan Bone
- Shooting guard: Sophomore Jordan Bowden
- Small forward: Junior Admiral Schofield
- Power forward: Sophomore Grant Williams
- Post: Junior Kyle Alexander
3 things to know about Tennessee basketball
• Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who coached at Texas for 17 years, is 5-0 in American Airlines Center and 8-2 in NCAA Tournament games played in the Lone Star State
• Tennessee’s 26 wins tie for the third-most in any prior season in the Vols’ basketball history.
• This will be Tennessee’s first-ever basketball game against Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers have tied their school record for victories (29), matching their 1963 national championship team.
What’s next for Tennessee basketball?
The Vols will advance to the Sweet 16 in the South Regional in Atlanta with a win over Loyola Chicago where they will face the winner of No. 2 seed Cincinnati and No. 7 seed Nevada.