Schofield said he couldn't discredit the Razorbacks, who beat the Vols 95-93 in overtime in Walton Arena on December 30 to open SEC play. "We've just got to make sure we get the rest we need before we come out and play again". "We know that our biggest Achilles heel all year has been rebounding".
All along, there was one thing about Tennessee that Kentucky just couldn't replicate: experience.
Then Kentucky's young squad came through down the stretch. The arena was raucous early as Kentucky, still riding the hot-shooting of its 86-63 semifinal win over Alabama, jumped out to an early 33-16 lead.
"As soon as we're done with the media obligations, (Quinndary) and I will head over to the hospital where he's being kept", Howland said after the game. That's as close as the game got.
Schofield made sure Tennessee got back in the game.
Tennessee was the better team for the better part of four months of the season, beating Kentucky twice.More news: City defeated, but sails into the last eight
But Kentucky punched back.
SEC Tournament MVP Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 29 points and 7 rebounds against the Volunteers, was virtually unguardable for three days.
Six more of those and Calipari can watch his team climb another ladder at the end of a much bigger tournament. But this team still has a chance to defeat more history in the NCAA Tournament.
"We just have a standard we're trying to play toward", Schofield said. "He was the main reason why we had another shot at this. We're winning games of work, off team work, off fighting, off just scrapping to get wins". To begin the half, UT was 1-of-8 from the floor. Knox leads Kentucky in scoring with 15.6 points per game while Washington leads the Wildcats in rebounding with 5.5 boards per game and Gilgeous-Alexander leads the Wildcats in assists with 5.1 assists per game this season.
Instead of letting his team forget about its performance the night before against Mississippi State, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes made it a point of emphasis as the Vols prepared because he wanted to avoid making the same mistakes. "Hopefully our guys will learn that a free-throw line block out and one or two ill-advised plays will cost you". A missed championship opportunity stung.
The Razorbacks have won 8 of their past 11 games with the losses to Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee - all teams projected to be in the NCAA Tournament. "It's been a couple years since Tennessee has been able to do that".
"You can't really change who you are, but at the same time, what we did in the regular season doesn't really matter at this point". Play continued however as Weatherspoon lay under the basket, and he got stomped on in the head/neck area by an opposing player jumping at full speed on the ensuing possession.