Vols fans optimistic after opening win in SEC tourney

  • Vols fans optimistic after opening win in SEC tourney

Vols fans optimistic after opening win in SEC tourney

"The biggest thing is we can't go in with the mindset that we beat them twice", Admiral Schofield said, looking ahead to Kentucky. 'If you're going to go by me like that I'm just going to trip you.' That's what I tell him in practice.

The No. 4-seeded Wildcats (24-10, 10-8) beat No. 2-seeded Tennessee (25-8, 13-5) on Sunday afternoon to claim their fourth straight SEC Tournament championship. It was the most improbable of Kentucky's four consecutive trophies at this event.

The Razorbacks have won 8 of their past 11 games with the losses to Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee - all teams projected to be in the NCAA Tournament. Kenyan Gabriel went a flawless 7 of 7 from 3-point range for a team-high 23 points with 3 blocks, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came 2nd with 19 points along with a team-high 8 assists. Sophomore Wenyen Gabriel blossomed into the "veteran" leader the Cats had been searching for, hitting 9 of 11 threes in the semifinals and title game.

Tennessee Volunteers guard James Daniel III (3) drives in for a layup attempt as he is pressured by Arkansas Razorbacks guard Jaylen Barford (0) during the first half of the semifinals of the SEC Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center.

"We have to get rest tonight and just do what we do". Little did we all know, however, that all that would come to an abrupt halt in just two years. "We needed to lose four in a row".

The Tennessee Volunteers (25-7) are coming from an 84-66 win over Arkansas in which Jordan Bone scored 19 points. "I thought they had more energy than we did". "They shaped our identity". Where he fielded nearly all freshmen, the Vols started three sophomores and two juniors.

Meanwhile, Tennessee is playing to improve its seed in the Big Dance and make a pitch for pod protection in the early rounds that potentially could see it open in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

On the season, Tennessee basketball averages 74.4 points, 36.0 rebounds and 16.0 assists per game. The Wildcats answered with a 14-2 burst and UT counterpunched again with a 14-3 run. A three-point play from Grant Williams on the following possession pushed the lead back out and the Razorbacks, playing their third game in three days, didn't have enough left to get back within striking distance.

The Vols go for their first SEC Tournament title in 39 years at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. "We're not a team that that's what we live and die with". The biggest thing is we try to go out to every game with that mindset like we're trying to ideal our standard. "So I think it will be that kind of game".

What else would he say, right? So yes, assistant coach Kenny Payne said, this is one of Calipari's finest coaching jobs yet.

"They're a totally different team than they were then", Barnes said of Kentucky.

Heady-and-ready plays that took advantage of sudden opportunities helped Kentucky down the stretch. "We usually come with a lot of energy". We haven't done that yet, so we're still a hungry team.

Tennessee's Jordan Bone said on Saturday that "we're trying to ideal, so we just have to do that and get ready for a team that's hungry to beat us".