The Tennessee Volunteers shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that the Auburn Tigers blew them out in the SEC Tournament final on Sunday. They should be concerned about the patterns and tendencies which can get them in trouble… and they seem to understand that.
Players and coaches identified the right points of emphasis after the Vols were thrashed by Auburn’s 3-point shooting in the SEC final. One day earlier, Tennessee took down Kentucky in a game whose result seemed to give the Vols the South Region placement they hoped for.
“March is a different vibe,” Tennessee forward and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Grant Williams said on Monday. “Teams are going to hit shots they may not have hit before. Teams are going to miss shots they always make. It just depends on the day, and you have to come in with the mentality that you have to do your job, execute and be intense.”
The Vols shouldn’t be alarmed that they lost, one day after an emotional and draining victory against an elite team from Lexington. It is understandable that they had little left in the tank, and equally understandable that their win over Kentucky created a few fool’s-gold responses against Auburn. Selling Tennessee stock based on the Auburn loss is foolish.
What isn’t foolish in terms of expressing skepticism about the Vols: They haven’t made the Final Four before. They should worry about exhibiting the level of attention to detail which — if lost — will get them bounced out of a high-pressure NCAA Tournament.
The good news: Coach Rick Barnes is very much aware of this.
“Too many guys tried to do it themselves,” Barnes said about the Auburn game once the Tigers gained the upper hand. “So that’s the lesson to be learned. And the night before, we didn’t do that, we stayed together. You ask me how you can 19 hours later go from being one team to the other team, I don’t know. I can’t answer that.”
As long as Barnes has the answers in the next two weekends, Tennessee can finally make a men’s Final Four in college basketball.
You can listen to and subscribe to the CBB Today Podcast on iTunes right here.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our college basketball, NCAA Tournament and NBA Draft email newsletter below. It’s the only way to survive the impending alien invasion.