You might as well have put a fork in this pork about halfway through the first half tonight. The Tennessee Volunteers chained the Hogs to the floor with six points barely two and a half minutes into the game and left them there while the good guys in hunter orange pretty much did whatever they pleased on their way to a 23-6 lead. Really, it was all over but the squealing at that point, and although Tennessee temporarily flirted with giving the game back in the second half, it closed out strong, winning 77-58 and capping off an extremely impressive two-game run of dominance that seems to be coming at just the right time.
Man, this game felt good. Admit it, you thought the Florida games were flukey, a bit more about Florida than Tennessee, or perhaps a bad matchup for the Gators, or karma confusing basketball for football or something, right? Well, maybe not. Because this team was primed for a letdown, but it didn't happen. Coming off a great win at Florida, with Arkansas not having won a road game, and with Kenny Hall going and getting himself suspended for "conduct (apparently not that) detrimental to the team," this game was dangerous. It seems that the closer we get to a legitimate discussion of bubbles, the more trouble we find.
But not tonight. Guess how many players were in double figures this evening? Six. Six players in double figures. In fact, you should double check the box score just to make sure you weren't in double figures, too. Jordan McRae had 14. Trae Golden had 13. Jeronne Maymon and Skylar McBee each had 12, and Cam Tatum and Jarnell Stokes had 11 and 10 respectively. Even after the Vols cooled off, they finished shooting 56% from the field and nearly 48% from behind the arc. They were hot, is what I'm saying.
The best part of the whole thing is that when the team did inevitably cool off, they not only had enough of a cushion to withstand Arkansas' run, they had the fortitude to regain the massive lead they'd won for themselves earlier. Really, it was an awesome performance, and on the heels of the big win at Florida, good luck trying to quell talk of postseason destinations now.
Tonight's win puts Tennessee tied at
5th 4th in the SEC with #23 Mississippi State and games against Alabama, Ole Miss, South Carolina, LSU, and Vandy remaining.
But what got the team here is a maturity and focus on the task at hand. Tonight, that task was beating the Razorbacks. Now it shifts to beating Alabama.