Tennessee basketball took care of business against the Ole Miss Rebels yesterday in their first game of the SEC tournament.
Ole Miss beat South Carolina on the first day of the SEC tournament, so the Vols were faced with a challenge and had to take on the Rebels. Tennessee basketball took care of business yesterday and beat Ole Miss 70-55.
Josiah-Jordan James stepped up.
Due to the absence of Zakai Zeigler, a new superstar would need to step up for the Vols to have any chance at going far in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Josiah-Jordan James was that guy yesterday afternoon. He came out on a mission, shot the lights out of the basketball, and helped remove some of the weight from Santiago Vescovi’s shoulders.
James was tearing up the Rebles defense and put up 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. On top of this incredible stat line, he also was a floor general and helped lead the Vols to victory.
Tennessee basketball will now face off against Missouri this afternoon at 3:30 pm.
Rick Barnes’s experience is a huge X-factor.
The injury to star point guard Zakai Zeigler will be a loss for the Volunteers down the stretch of this season. Still, the experience of Rick Barnes should help to weather the storm. Many people are counting the Vols out, first-round busts, and completely doubting the once-ranked No. 2 team in the country.
Doubters are overreacting to Zeigler’s injury, and the Vols are healthier than they were earlier in the season. They were once at a time when almost all of their starters were out with injuries, but Barnes still found a way to lead this team to victory. Tennessee basketball has fought through adversity all season, and it’s nothing new as they continue through the SEC tournament and into March Madness.
Here is what head coach Rick Barnes had to say after the game in his post-game press conference:
"“I think we can still get better. I mean, defensively, I want to see us play defense and rebound. From our point, when we go back and grade this game out, I’m sure we’ve hit a lot of our team goals that we would like to have, obviously.But offensively, I mean, you think about it. Again, 19 points off turnovers. That can’t happen. I mean, if we’re the defensive team that we want to be and should be, we’ve got to make people play against it. You can’t give ’em the ball and give ’em a chance to get out in transition. There’s no defense for that. The best defense we can have right there is to take care of the ball.For us moving forward, the best defense we can have is taking care of the ball, not allow people to get out and score 19 points in transition.”"