Tennessee junior Admiral Schofield has been as hot as any player in the nation the past two weeks, but Kentucky managed to derail him for a few minutes.
Schofield was knocked out of Sunday’s SEC Tournament title game for a critical stretch in the final 10 minutes after a loose-ball scrum.
“Trying to get a loose ball, and just ran into somebody’s butt, actually, and my head snapped back,” Schofield said after the Vols’ 77-72 loss to the Wildcats in St. Louis. “I’m all right. Just my nose is stinging a little bit, but I’m okay.”
Schofield wasn’t OK when he left the game with 10:13 left and Kentucky up 55-51. Tennessee’s trainer took him to the locker room to be examined, and he was visibly shaken by the contact.
Schofield checked back into the game at 4:20 mark with game tied 62-62 and promptly missed a box out that Coach Rick Barnes cited as a turning point in the game.
Tennessee radio analyst Bert Bertelkamp — a member of the last Vols’ team to win the SEC Tournament in 1979 — said “that might have been the difference,” when discussing Schofield’s injury after the game.
Tennessee senior guard James Daniel lll seemed to agree.
“Going without Schofield,” Daniel said, “part of our three-headed monster got cut off.”
Schofield, the only Tennessee player named to the SEC Tournament team, finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Kentucky.
Still, he was clearly upset and disappointed.
“It’s hard to flush that …. we wanted to win this game for our university, our families and our coaching staff after all the hard work we put in,” Schofield said. “One or two possessions, and we didn’t execute.
“I take responsibility for not blocking out at the free-throw line and doing what I needed to do.”