Vols fans react to Tennessee’s slow start in the SEC Tournament against Mississippi State

Rick Barnes has been defined by his postseason shortcomings for most of his career, so this poor start to the SEC Tournament for Tennessee feels like more of the same to Vols fans.
Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes
Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee won the SEC regular season title outright for the first time in Rick Barnes’s tenure, so excitement and expectations were sky-high heading into the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Well, after getting a bye to the quarterfinals, the No. 1 seeded Vols couldn’t have started slower against Mississippi State. 

Nearly 10 minutes into the game, Tennessee trailed 15-4 with five turnovers and just two made field goals despite five offensive rebounds. Rick Barnes has become defined by his tournament failures, so very quickly excitement has been replaced by nightmares of tournaments past for Volunteers fans. 

Rick Barnes told ESPN’s Marty Smith in a sideline report that, “we gotta get going,” and Tennessee fans on X certainly agree. 

Barnes has made a Final Four before, but that was at Texas. His more recent postseason success came just two years ago when the Vols won the SEC Tournament. However, don’t tell angry Vols fans that because this feels like the same old team. 

Even the addition of Dalton Knecht, which has changed Tennessee’s regular-season identity, so far hasn’t helped in a win-or-go-home setting. Through the first 10 minutes of the first half, Knecht had just two points for the Vols, after scoring 40 in a losing effort in the regular season finale against Kentucky.

Tennessee was supposed to be on a collision course with Kentucky for the SEC crown, but it looks like Barnes isn't holding up his end of the deal with coach Calipari.

Tennessee has played Mississippi State once this season and the Bulldogs handed the Vols one of their four conference losses.

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