Tennessee will be without the services of starting forward John Fulkerson for an extended period of time.
The 6-foot-7 freshman suffered an elbow injury and had his shoulder pop out in UT’s victory over Lipscomb on Thursday evening. Coach Rick Barnes told reporters on Saturday that Fulkerson (4.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) will miss over a month due to the injury.
“Six weeks at minimum,” Barnes said. “We’ll go from there, but in the meantime, we’ve got a group of guys that I think can play, and we’re going to keep working and figure out what we can do. We’ve had injuries all year we’ve had to deal with and we’re working through it and we’ll do the same here.”
Barnes said that graduate transfer Lew Evans will likely get the start in Fulkerson’s place when the Vols face No. 8 Gonzaga (10-0) in Nashville on Sunday afternoon (4 pm ET, ESPN2), but also noted that the Vols (6-4) will do what they need to “from game to game” as they have done all year.
Sophomore forward Admiral Schofield, who sat out Thursday’s game is questionable for Sunday’s game.
“He was a little bit limpy in practice today,” Barnes said of Schofield. “He went and tried to get through it, but hopefully he’ll be able to give us some minutes, but if not, like I said, we made it through the other night, and we got different ways we can play and we’ll have to do that.”
The Vols, again, find themselves pitted against one of the top teams in the nation just a week after battling to a 73-71 loss at No. 7 North Carolina. The Bulldogs are undefeated with victories against Florida, Washington, Arizona and Iowa State already on their résumé. They knocked off Tennessee 86-79 in Seattle last season.
“(Mark Few has) a nice team, and maybe as good of a team as he’s had,” Barnes said. “You look at where he is right now what he’s done in non-league – traditionally they’ve kind of rolled through that league, so he’s setting himself up for a great year and obviously a great seed in postseason play.”
After competitive losses to Oregon, Wisconsin and UNC this year, Barnes is hoping to see his team turn the corner in the final two games before Christmas break.
“We’ve had some chances where we’ve been close, but close is not good enough,” he said. “And this one and the East Tennessee State game will bring an end to our non-league schedule, and both of those teams I think – Gonzaga picked to win their league in the preseason, I think East Tennessee State is the same way, so for us it’s just tomorrow against Gonzaga and then we’ll get ready for the next one after that one.”