ST. LOUIS — Tennessee players heard the boos.
Kentucky had just beaten Alabama, and as the Volunteers took the court to face Arkansas, the overwhelming Cats crowd in St. Louis gave their southern rivals a preview of what might come Sunday when Tennessee and Kentucky play for the SEC Tournament championship.
“I heard it coming out,” Tennessee sophomore guard Jordan Bowden said. “We heard ’em booing. I didn’t know what they was booing about. I heard it and we didn’t think nothing of it.”
It’ll be Vols-Cats Part 3 at 1 p.m. ET Sunday in St. Louis. Tennessee swept the two regular season meetings: a 76-65 January win in Knoxville and a 61-59 win in Lexington a month later.
Because of that history, Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox — before knowing that Tennessee would crush Arkansas 84-66 in the semifinals — wanted to play the Vols instead of the Razorbacks.
“Just because we lost to them twice in the regular season,” Knox said. “I would love to see them again in the championship game. I know a lot of people would like to see two great teams.”
Kentucky and Tennessee are squarely in the NCAA Tournament, but both could be fighting to jump up a seed line. ESPN’s Bracketology has Tennessee as a No. 3 seed and Kentucky a No. 5 seed.
“It’s going to be fun,” sophomore guard Lamonte Turner said. “Kentucky’s just Kentucky. They’re competitive, they have a great coach, they always come out with energy. I know they’re gonna be ready to play. They feel like they’re gonna get some get-back with us.”
Kentucky has won six of their last seven games while Tennessee is riding a six-game win streak.
“We’re playing good basketball right now so that’s where the confidence comes from,” Turner said. “We’re not really worried about the past games because this is the SEC Tournament championship. Anything can happen.”