This will be educational. Scotty Hopson is still in Knoxville getting treatment on a sprained ankle. The Vols certainly hope to have him back against Alabama on Saturday, but the following week is even more important: at Kentucky, at Florida. Ankle sprains tend to linger, so we'll see how long it lasts...but while he's out, Tennessee has to figure out how to score without him. Hopson leads the way with 16.5 a game, and considering Tobias Harris will play at less than 100% tonight (which almost certainly will mean fewer minutes) with his own ankle issue, where do points come from?
If you had to pick one team in the SEC to face under these circumstances, it would be Auburn: 289 in the RPI today, the worst number for any SEC team in the new millenium. That's up from the low 300s after a win at South Carolina, which made you pay a little more attention. They took Florida to the wire in the ugly-of-uglies in SEC Basketball this year, a 45-40 Gator victory on the plains. So they've played better basketball recently...but that doesn't make it good basketball.
Will Skylar McBee start tonight? If Josh Bone backs him up at the 2, does that mean Renaldo Woolridge will play at the 3? Steven Pearl at the 3 was a disaster earlier this year, but his minutes at the 4 should increase tonight with Tobias less than 100%. Could we see Jeronne Maymon tonight? There's a lot we just don't know here...but I'm very interested to see how this team looks tonight, and who will step up and score in Hopson's absence.
This may be the last chance to take a deep breath we get, and losing Hopson complicates it anyway. Tennessee should win this game, and could still win it easily. But this could be the last time this year we look at a game that way. Saturday's game with Alabama has turned into a legit big game after the Tide got to 6-1 in the league with a win over Mississippi State last night. And the second half of the SEC schedule will be much tougher, with everyone needing wins down the stretch.
We shoudln't overlook Auburn now that Hopson's out, but we should still have enough firepower to get the job done. I'm just curious to see exactly who's pulling the trigger.
9:00 PM - ESPN2