KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Rick Barnes and his Tennessee players know better than to look for the Vols in any mock brackets at this stage of the season, but they’re not shy about maintaining the NCAA Tournament as their goal.
The Vols are the smallest and youngest team in the SEC, and it’s a wounded group at that, having lost their most explosive scorer off the bench and most energetic rebounder to attrition.
Still, sophomore Admiral Schofield headed to Nashville last weekend saying a win over Vanderbilt could be a turning point for the season, and that the team was capable of going on the type of run that could get Tennessee into the NCAA tournament
Barnes weighed in on that sentiment on Monday during his press conference at the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio.
“I’d be disappointed if they didn’t have goals,” Barns said. “You can wish it, or you can go out every day and do something about it. It’s not gonna happen by wishing it or talking about it.
“You have to take the action every day to be a tournament team, and you have to stay consistent.”
The Vols have flashed monster potential at times, leading North Carolina on the road by 15 points en route to a 2-point loss to the talented Tar Heels, and most recently dominating Vanderbilt on the road in an 87-75 win Saturday.
Barnes said his young team needs to realize they need to do much, much more before anyone on the outside takes their NCAA tourney hopes seriously.
“Just by us thinking we’ve turned the corner doesn’t mean anything,” Barnes said. “If you want to be an NCAA tournament team you have to realize that from the first game on, every game on the schedule goes on the resume.”
Sweeping the Mississippi schools this week — at Ole Miss tonight, at home to Mississippi State on Saturday — would be something an NCAA tournament-type of team would do.
Tennessee basketball vs. Ole Miss game time, details
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
Time: 9:05 p.m.
Location: The Pavilion At Ole Miss, Oxford, Miss. (Cap. 9.500)
Vegas Line: Tennessee by 1 1/2
What TV Channel is Tennessee basketball vs. Ole Miss on?
The game is being televised by the SEC Network.
How can I watch Tennessee basketball vs. Ole Miss online?
The game will be available on WatchESPN.com
Who is calling the Tennessee basketball game vs. Ole Miss
Mike Morgan will handle the play-by-play duties and Dane Bradshaw will provide the color analysis.
How can I listen to Tennessee basketball vs. Ole Miss
The game will be on Sirius channel 145 and XM 190. The game will also be on all Vol Network affiliates.
• Ole Miss has won the past two meetings, including last year’s matchup, 59-57 in Oxford. It’s the only time Rick Barnes has faced Andy Kennedy.
• The Vols have played the third most-difficult schedule in the nation, according to the most recent Sagarin Ratings.
• Tennessee is looking for its fourth road win of the season, after getting just one in Barnes’ first season as head coach.