Tennessee basketball moved up three spots to No. 5 in this week’s AP Poll after a dominant 2-0 week in SEC play.
The Vols annihilated Mississippi State in their SEC home opener before doubling up SEC east rival South Carolina on the road Saturday. Tennessee combined to outscore its two opponents, 172-95, in its extremely dominant week. It was the most Tennessee has outscored consecutive SEC opponents in program history.
Rick Barnes’ eighth Tennessee team is the second highest ranked SEC team in this week’s poll coming in behind No. 4 Alabama and ahead of No. 15 Arkansas, No. 20 Missouri and No. 21 Auburn.
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Tennessee has the nation’s top defense and has locked down top scorers all season. That was most notable last week when the Vols held South Carolina star freshman GG Jackson scoreless. The power forward had previously scored in double-digits every game this season.
“It was a big focus talking about GG and we went ahead and threw it out there that he had scored in double figures in every game this season and I was being literal but not as literal as like hey, let’s not let him score tonight,” Tennessee assistant Rod Clark said. “Every coach says that. Don’t let him score. He gets nothing but you don’t expect to look at the box score and like wow he had zero points. For a guy that’s potentially going to be a lottery pick. I mean GG Jackson is a really good player, but for our guys to step up and take that challenge I think it speaks volumes to really the competitive spirit and championship mindset we have in the locker room.”
Tennessee returns to Thompson-Boling Arena this week for consecutive home games. The Vols face Vanderbilt Tuesday night before facing arch rival Kentucky Saturday. UT is retiring program legend Chris Lofton’s jersey at halftime of the Kentucky game.
But first, Tennessee is looking for its 11th straight victory over Vanderbilt. Tip-off between the Vols and Commodores is at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday. The SEC Network is broadcasting the game.