And you all know what means. It’s time to check out what orange and white related nonsense is rattling around inside my brain.
Let’s get to it...
1) Well......that was a far more difficult week for Tennessee basketball than I had imagined. As good as they looked against Ole Miss, I figured the Vols would be able to roll through the Bulldogs on the road in Starkeville and Athens. If not for a late rally in Athens, it would have been a devastating week and one that would have raised major questions.
2) Fortunately, thanks to Dalton Knecht’s late-game heroics, we don’t have to deal with those questions. At least not yet. Knecht was simply masterful once again when the Vols needed him to be. Trailing by 11 points against Georgia with around 6 minutes to go, the Vols went on a 21-4 run to end the game, lifting them to an 85-79 win on Saturday. Knecht finished with 36 points and had 10 of the 21 points during the final run. His three pointer with just under two minutes left gave Tennessee the lead for good at 81-79. He also had a couple of nifty passes during that run to set up baskets. He simply did it all when Tennessee needed someone to step up.
3) And it’s the showing of #3 on the road that gives confidence that this year’s team might have the potential to be different from previous ones. Per UT, through four true road games, Knecht is averaging 31.3 points per game with 24 or more in all games. So far he’s shown that, when the pressure is at its highest - both as far as the game situation and the environment - his blood is as cold as it can be. That’s the kind of mentality, poise, and production that Tennessee needs in March.
4) And it’s a little off topic, but by God, Bert Bertelkamp yelling “MONEY!” brings me an irrational amount of joy. Enjoy, if you haven’t watched:
rallied for the road win— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) January 14, 2024
full highlights ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/uoqTFUkDH8
5) The grind continues this week against two schools that Tennessee fans love to beat regardless of the sport: Florida and Alabama. Both games will take place inside the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena, where Tennessee typically plays its best basketball. However, it won’t be easy. Florida is coming off a close loss to Kentucky and a convincing win over Arkansas, while Alabama is tied for first in the SEC with a 3-0 conference mark. Tennessee needs to build off their big comeback Saturday and turn it into some momentum as they head towards February.