KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes knows to expect a challenge at Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Rebels’ 12-16 overall mark and 5-10 league record don’t suggest much, but its 90-87 overtime win at Missouri on Tuesday night says it all.
“After watching what they did against Missouri,” Barnes said Friday, “they’ve got a pretty good mindset right now.”
The No. 19-ranked Vols (20-7, 10-5 SEC) tip off at Ole Miss at 1 p.m. on Saturday (TV: SEC Network). Tennessee is in search of back-to-back wins for what would be the first time since Feb. 6, having sputtered the past 2 1/2 weeks with a 2-2 mark.
The Vols could have injuries on the front line, with Kyle Alexander in a protective boot on Friday and Derrick Walker questionable with a sprained ankle suffered in Tuesday’s practice.
Tennessee is working to the momentum back it enjoyed when it reeled off six straight SEC wins, but that has been elusive.
Ole Miss interim head coach Tony Madlock, spoke of his team’s mindset after knocking off Cuonzo Martin’s battled-tested Tigers on Tuesday night.
“We’re not going to go quiet — we’re going to play hard,” Madlock said. “All we’ve talked about the past few days is playing hard, playing together and playing with your brothers. We’ve been working since June. They’ve put in so much work, so it’s all about them.”
The win over Missouri represented Ole Miss’ first game since Andy Kennedy stepped down as coach, and the team has clearly responded well.
Tennessee will be the Rebels’ first home game without Kennedy, and they’ll likely be playing with something to prove after the Vols beat them 94-61 on Feb. 3 in Knoxville.
It’s also Ole Miss’ first weekend home game in six weeks, and the Rebels have a three-game win streak over Tennessee in games played in Oxford
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