Both Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips missed another game over the weekend at Kentucky, and Tennessee once again paid the price. The Volunteers dropped their second game of the season to the Wildcats, allowing John Calipari’s bubble team to complete the season sweep.
Things won’t get any easier on Tuesday night, as Tennessee travels down to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies have been great in conference play, holding a 12-2 record against SEC opponents. That’s good for second in the conference standings.
Tennessee badly needs James and Phillips back, now with just four game left before the SEC Tournament. Will that happen tonight? Once again, both are game-time decisions.
Not only are the Volunteers missing two starters, but they’re missing some serious rebounding, defense and scoring from their lineup.
“It’s important because I think the one thing that everybody looks at our team and we do keep the next man up mentality, but I think it’s an obvious thing that everybody sees that we do miss those guys,” Tennessee assistant Rod Clark said. “We miss the length, we miss the ability to get to the rim, we miss the size because obviously those are two guys that play the guard position for us and they make us bigger on the wings and we do miss it. But it’s important us to get it back. It’s important for us to have him healthy because they’re big parts of our team, especially down the stretch.”
Tennessee has gotten solid minutes from Jahmai Mashack in their place, but the lack of depth and length continues to weight heavily. The Volunteers have about two weeks left to get healthy before taking on the SEC Tournament, where they’re now trying to hold on to that Thursday bye.
The Volunteers and Aggies will tip-off tonight on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.