Vols Get No. 3 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Will Open In Dallas
Vols Get No. 3 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Will Open In Dallas
P.J. Washington and Kentucky will test Tennessee for a third time Sunday
12 March, 2018, 09:23
The opening tip-off came with dry ice used in the starting lineup announcements still lingering over the court and a heightened sense of tension permeating the arena where Tennessee had defeated Mississippi State and Arkansas already this weekend.
It was the team's defense that bailed out a struggling offense in the Volunteers' 62-59 victory over Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday night.
I still think Tennessee is the team I trust most in the SEC, but there's just something about Kentucky in the conference tournament.
All-SEC wing Admiral Schofield led the Vols (25-8) with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. We got swept in the series this season. Tennessee could have at least been a two-seed again, but Sunday's loss to Kentucky cost them. Lamonte Turner was Tennessee's high scorer with 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Then nothing came easy. "Calipari just gets his guys to play in March and they did just that here". "We got back in the game and we simply didn't finish out".
Schofield said the game provided an education to take a point they will have to use going forward.
Kentucky scored 57 points in the second half Saturday against Alabama.
Tennessee led by seven points at halftime, but MSU scored the first four points of the second half.
Kentucky started hot out of the gate, pushing its way to a 17-point lead when Quade Green knocked down a pull-up jumper with four minutes, 31 seconds left in the half. Most of these players are expected to return next season.
Despite the bitter end for Tennessee, Barnes still has a team capable of doing big things as an at-large in the NCAA tournament. "He was the main reason why we had another shot at this". "That's one of the teams we hadn't beat since we've been at Tennessee".
Of course, the matchup isn't much of a surprise when you consider how Tennessee and Kentucky have played over the last several weeks, and that should make for a fun game on Sunday. But for Tennessee to beat Kentucky three times in one year?
Kentucky's Gilgeous-Alexander hit a shot to make it a three points game with less than a minute left.
In other conference tournament finals Sunday, Gary Clark put Cincinnati ahead for good with a free throw with 4.3 seconds remaining and the No. 8 Bearcats held on for a 56-55 victory over No. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship.
Kentucky has an all-time record of 133-25 in the SEC Tournament, and has won 12 in a row.
"We had 22 offensive rebounds, and that was the difference", Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "It's been a couple years since Tennessee has been able to do that".
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