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Uros Plavsic continues to boost Tennessee with ‘emotion and energy’

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Uros Plavsic got his second start of the season against LSU, and delivered similar results. The seven-footer put up 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, playing a career high 28 minutes in Tennessee’s big win over the Tigers. However, his impact goes further than a statsheet. Uros has given Tennessee something that they’ve needed all season long — an attitude and an edge.

The game against LSU was filled with emotion, and that started before the game. The two teams had to be separated pregame after LSU coaches were apparently sending Tennessee basketballs soaring into the stands.

The tone was set, and Will Wade’s ongoing sideline antics throughout the game didn’t help the situation.

Of course, Tennessee’s lovable big man was front and center, ready to defend his guys and home floor. It’s a role that Plavsic has grown into — the enforcer. He brings a certain attitude to the floor, something that the Volunteers frankly haven’t had all season.

“His emotion and energy has been a big shot in the arm for us,” Rick Barnes said after the game. “I think it helps the other players. He’s very authentic. There’s nothing phony about it. I’d say the same think about Jahmai Mashack. I think that he does the same thing. When he talks, it’s authentic. I said that after one of the other games. It’s been a big, big shot in the arm for us because you have to have that. Santi will do it in his own way. Josiah is going to do it in his own way, but what he’s done is something that this team needed.”

Barnes made the call to start Plavsic over John Fulkerson earlier this week, following an embarrassing 28 point loss to Kentucky. Tennessee has now responded with two straight wins, clawing back to 4-3 in conference play. The Volunteers needed some sort of change in the frontcourt to counter a Fulkerson slump and an inconsistent Olivier Nkamhoua.

Plavsic was the leader in the post on Saturday, logging 28 minutes vs. Nkamhoua’s 16, Fulkerson’s 14 and Huntley-Hatfield’s 14. Through two starts he’s brought consistency to the frontcourt, which is what Barnes has been searching for all season.

Tennessee has another big week coming, set to host Florida on Wednesday and travel to Texas on Saturday night.