Not only did Tennessee get their heart ripped out and stomped on in two consecutive games, they also lost two starters to injury in the process. Josiah-Jordan James turned his ankle late against Vanderbilt and did not return. Julian Phillips left Saturday’s game against Missouri with a hip injury, unable to return following halftime.
You couldn’t time those injuries much worse, with Alabama and Kentucky up next for the Volunteers this week. Barnes was forced to play small against Missouri, and Jahmai Mashack stepped up to the plate and played some big minutes during Tennessee’s frantic comeback.
Will he have to go the same route against No. 1 Alabama on Wednesday night?
“It will be game-day,” Barnes said of the decision to play James and Phillips. “We won’t do much with either of them (Monday), obviously. Let them try to get as healed as they possibly can. If not, whatever we have, we’ve got to go play.”
James missed several games to start the season, nursing a sore knee back to full health. Tennessee has plenty of experience playing without him, but without Julian Phillips too, that’s quite a bit of size missing from lineups. Obviously, that would loom large against Alabama and their shooting tendencies.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET in Knoxville on Wednesday night.