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Rick Barnes addresses Jordan Bowden’s injury

It was a surprise for Barnes too.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

When Tennessee sent in their first wave of substitutions on Tuesday night against South Carolina, Jordan Bowden remained on the bench. The junior guard out of Knoxville is in the middle of a potential SEC sixth-man of the year season, but wasn’t available against the Gamecocks.

“We didn’t know until pregame warmups that Jordan Bowden wasn’t going to play,” Rick Barnes said after the game. “We went through shootaround and he didn’t mention anything, Chad (Newman) came back and told us that Bowden didn’t think he could play. They told me ten minutes before the game.”

Everyone else found out on the SEC Network broadcast, which reported that Bowden had tweaked his knee in shootaround.

Tennessee suddenly had 27 minutes and 11 points to replace, heading into a hostile environment against a team that started 5-1 in the SEC. It took a total team effort, but it proved to be no problem for the No. 1 Vols in the end.

“Really happy with the way Jalen Johnson and Derrick Walker stepped up,” Barnes said. “They gave us some very important minutes, foul trouble — we tried to work through it the best we could. Our older, experienced guys really kept their poise.”

Jordan Bone’s 19 points and nine assists was the catalyst. Grant Williams added 23 and Admiral Schofield busted out of his slump to add 24. That trio — as they have all season — proved to be plenty.

When asked of the severity of Bowden’s injury, Barnes said, “he’ll be fine by Saturday. I feel certain of that.”

Tennessee will head to Texas A&M for their next game on Saturday night.