Tennessee has a shot at a title tomorrow afternoon at Thompson Boling-Arena. If the Vols win, they can clinch a share of the SEC regular season title. If they win and Auburn loses to South Carolina, they’ll stand alone as outright SEC regular season champs.
The Volunteers can only control one thing tomorrow — that’s beating the Georgia Bulldogs. Rick Barnes made it clear that he wasn’t interested in the result out of Auburn tomorrow.
“That game doesn’t matter. We’ve got to play hard and worry about ourselves,” Barnes said. Auburn gets South Carolina tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 eastern.
As for Georgia, Tennessee is well aware of how capable the Bulldogs are. Georgia beat Tennessee on February 17th, controlling the game for much of the night.
“They’re long. They play a really solid style of basketball,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to do a better job in a lot of different areas. Our ball-screen defense wasn’t great and we’ve got to rebound much better.”
Tennessee was out-rebounded by Georgia 40-33 in their previous matchup.
“We’re going to have to work harder offensively. I thought we settled a lot, shooting a lot of threes, but it’s going to be difficult because of the way Georgia plays.”
Georgia is 1-2 since then, dropping a game at home to Texas A&M and one on the road to South Carolina.
Tennessee will need a better effort out of Grant Williams, who got in foul trouble in the second half of the Vols’ loss to Georgia. Williams wasn’t much of a factor before those foul issues though, scoring just five points on the night. I’d bet that won’t be the case again.
Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 19 points. He will once again be the focus of Tennessee’s defense. Tennessee did a pretty good job on him all things considered, but contributions from Tyree Crump, Derek Ogbeide, William Jackson II and Juwan Parker ultimately did Tennessee in.
A win would give Tennessee at least a share of the SEC title, but it would also snap a five game losing streak against Georgia. The Bulldogs have had the Volunteers number as of late. Rick Barnes has yet to beat Georgia.
Now would be as good of a time as any.
“This is what you play for,” Barnes said. “You want to win championships. We’ve got a group of guys that have worked hard and believed, probably when a lot of people on the outside didn’t. For them to do what they’ve done to this point is a compliment to them and their work ethic.”