Somewhere between 10-0 and 27-4, Tennessee took the drama out of this one. But there's plenty of drama left in the season, as all the conversations about the bubble and the coach and this team's potential will come to a head against Missouri in the regular season finale.
The Vols got their 19th win tonight, and improved their average margin of victory to an insane 20.8 points. We looked earlier on Wednesday at the potential x-factors for Tennessee, and several of them were on display tonight. Antonio Barton stayed hot, scoring 14 points behind 4 of 8 from the arc. The Vols stayed north of their magic numbers, moving to 15-0 when shooting better than 46.0% (48.3% tonight) and 15-2 when getting 12+ assists (17 tonight).
All five Tennessee starters were in double figures, led by an impressive 20-7-7 from Jarnell Stokes, flirting with a triple-double after going 8 of 10 from the floor. It was UT's night in every sense.
The Vols again stayed basically level in RPI, moving to 46. It's a number that shouldn't change much with a win over Missouri either, but the Vols have to have it to stay in the at-large picture. Tennessee can also guarantee themselves a double bye in the SEC Tournament with a win.
Whatever you think about this coach or this team, it's still an incomplete thought at this point. The Vols have been on the bubble for most of conference play, but they've won just enough games to stay inside most tournament projections with one game left to play. Tennessee has now won three straight for the fourth time this year. It will take four straight for just the second time this year to send the Vols to Atlanta inside the bubble.
Tonight was yet another example of UT's best basketball. Will it take hold for the long run this time? For now, Tennessee only needs it for 40 more minutes on senior day for several key pieces.
With one game to play, everything is still on the table. We're everything but boring.