Baylor May Look To Make A Statement Vs. West Virginia
John Fulkerson is out of Tennessee’s starting lineup Tuesday night against Vanderbilt after struggling since contracting COVID-19 during the Christmas break. Junior center Uros Plavsic replaces the Kingsport native.
Fulkerson averaged 9.9 points per game in non conference play, scoring in double digits in four of Tennessee’s five games against power five opponents. Bookmarking the run was the second best game of Fulkerson’s career as the East Tennessee native’s 24 point, 10 rebound performance pushed the Vols past Arizona.
The super senior missed the Vols’ SEC opener at Alabama with COVID-19 and has struggled in the four games since, averaging 4.5 points and three rebounds. Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes expressed his frustration with Fulkerson after the Vols’ loss at LSU.
“We need John to help us or he needs to step aside,” Barnes said. “I’m telling you, we need him. We’ve talked to him enough about it and he needs to come out and know how people are playing him. He can’t stand there with a team we talked about all week is going to reach, grab, poke at the ball and let the ball stay away from his body. We keep talking to him about it. He plays too vertical. You’ve got to get down — again, I think it gets down to him needing to play tougher and harder. I’m not going to say more physical because we’re not asking him to do that, but we are asking him to do what he needs to do to get into space and play, but defensively and rebounding wise he has to do that. If he does nothing but do that it’ll help us.”
After Fulkerson recorded zero rebounds or points in Tennessee’s loss at Kentucky, Barnes decided to make a change.
Plavsic replaces the super senior as his role continues to increase this season. The 6-foot-11 center averages 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game this season.
How much Plavsic’s minutes increase compared to how much Tennessee’s four-guard lineup increases will be worth watching at Memorial Gymnasium.
Tip-off in Nashville is set for 9 p.m. ET. The SEC Network is broadcasting the game.