KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes knows to expect a challenge at Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Rebels’ 12-16 mark (5-10 SEC) doesn’t suggest much resistance, but their 90-87 overtime win at Missouri on Tuesday night says it all.
“After watching what they did against Missouri, they’ve got a pretty good mindset right now,” Barnes said Friday.
The No. 19 Vols (20-7, 10-5 SEC) tip off at Ole Miss at 1 p.m. on Saturday (SEC Network). Tennessee is in search of back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 6, having sputtered the last 2 1/2 weeks with a 2-2 mark.
The Vols could have injuries on the front line, with Kyle Alexander in a protective boot on Friday and Derrick Walker questionable with a sprained ankle suffered in practice on Tuesday.
Tennessee is working to regain the momentum it enjoyed when it reeled off six consecutive SEC wins, but that has been elusive.
Ole Miss interim coach Tony Madlock spoke about his team’s mindset after knocking off Cuonzo Martin’s battled-tested Tigers on Tuesday night.
“We’re not going to go quiet — we’re going to play hard,” Madlock said. “All we’ve talked about the past few days is playing hard, playing together and playing with your brothers. We’ve been working since June. They’ve put in so much work, so it’s all about them.”
The win against Missouri represented Ole Miss’ first game since Andy Kennedy stepped down as coach, and the team has responded well.
Tennessee will be the opponent in the Rebels’ first home game without Kennedy, and they likely will play with something to prove after the Vols defeated them 94-61 on Feb. 3 in Knoxville.
It also is Ole Miss’ first weekend home game in six weeks, and the Rebels have a three-game win streak against Tennessee in games played in Oxford.