It was another fairly breezy week for the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers. They were able to hold serve at home twice, taking care of business against Missouri and Florida. Both games featured balanced scoring from Tennessee, which saw Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield reach double-digits in each contest.
Schofield returned to his old ways, shooting over 50 percent this week. He shot 4-7 from three-point range, giving the Tennessee offense one of their primary outside threats back. Bone came back down to earth a bit from a shooting standpoint after taking home SEC player of the week honors the week before. But his progress as a true point guard and leader on this team has been incredible to watch. His consistency as a floor general remains the biggest difference in this team from last year to this year.
With Schofield officially back and Bone in total control, bring on Kentucky. But first, it’s South Carolina.
South Carolina (Wednesday, 6:30 ET)
As the above sentence lays out, this South Carolina game could prove to be tricky with a trip to Rupp Arena coming. Tennessee handled the Gamecocks a couple of weeks back, shifting into high gear late in the second half.
South Carolina is 2-1 since, picking up wins over Georgia and Arkansas. They were blown out in their trip to Kentucky, losing by nearly 30 points. The Gamecocks still can’t be taken lightly though, sitting at 7-3 in conference play. With the first huge game for the Vols coming up on Saturday, Rick Barnes will have to keep his guys laser focused on the task at hand on Wednesday.
Kentucky (Saturday, 7 ET)
Finally, Tennessee and Kentucky will square off this week. It’s going to be a top five matchup in Lexington on Saturday night, complete with the presence of College Gameday. It’s obviously a key game in the race for the SEC regular season crown, with both Tennessee and Kentucky sitting atop the league right now. The Wildcats are tied with LSU for second place with a 9-1 conference record.
Similar to Tennessee, Kentucky has been rolling through league play. The Wildcats dropped one on the road to Alabama to start their SEC schedule, but they’ve passed plenty of tests to date. Road wins at Mississippi State, Louisville and Auburn are impressive, along with victories over Kansas and North Carolina at home.
Tennessee swept Kentucky in the regular season last year before dropping the SEC Tournament championship game in St. Louis. The Vols got the Rupp monkey off their back, winning in Lexington for the first time since 2006.
It’s the first truly ‘big game’ for the Vols since Gonzaga in December. It won’t be their last of the regular season either. Tennessee’s SEC schedule ramps up down the stretch, with Kentucky coming to town, along with trips to LSU and Auburn to finish the year.