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Andy Kennedy: Tennessee has all the pieces to make a real run

High praise.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee took it to Ole Miss last night, absolutely dismantling the Rebels and running away with it in the second half. It was Tennessee’s third straight 20 point victory and their ninth win in their last ten games.

The Volunteers are hot right now and Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy was very impressed. He broke down last night’s game for the media and had plenty of praise for the surging Vols.

“When you have 17 turnovers and you shoot 35 percent and you let your opponent shoot 71 percent in the second half, it’s going to be a long night,” Kennedy began. “I’ve had a lot of nights in here. This is my eighth time — I’ve never been whipped like that. I like Rick Barnes, but I don’t like him that much.”

Tennessee seemingly could do no wrong in the second half. All the shots were falling in what Rick Barnes called their best half of the year.

“Rick Barnes is going to the Hall of Fame. Y’all know that right? He’s done an incredible job of getting blue collar guys maxed out. They’ve bought in. Today was an avalanche that we were under,” Kennedy said.

The Ole Miss head coach went on to say that Tennessee has a chance to make some noise in the post-season.

“(Barnes) has got a good group. We’ve played most everyone in the league. We’ve played Florida, Alabama, Auburn twice, A&M, Georgia — I don’t know what the remainder of their schedule looks like, but they’ve got an opportunity to make a real run. They’ve got all the pieces.”

That last sentence from Kennedy stands out. A month ago, I’m not sure you could say that about this team. However, since the emergence of Lamonte Turner and consistent play of Kyle Alexander, this team has been a different group.

The Vols desperately needed some consistency to emerge from someone other than Admiral Schofield or Grant Williams. With Turner, Alexander — and even James Daniel, they’ve got that. It seems like it’s been a much more balanced attack over the past few weeks.

With that being said, the schedule has lightened up over the past couple of weeks. I think we’ll figure out a lot about this team this week as they head to Kentucky and Alabama. But you also can’t discount the obvious progress that they’ve made over the last month.