No. 17 Tennessee will host No. 20 Illinois in a big college basketball non-conference matchup on Saturday in Knoxville.
The Vols are looking for their second straight win after dropping three straight Top 17 games while the Fighting Illini work to build on their five-game winning streak in what is projected to be a rowdy Thompson-Boling Arena at the Food City Center. Tennessee Athletics announced on Friday morning that Saturday’s non-conference clash will be in front of a sold-out building.
Prior to the game on Saturday, Tennessee assistant coach Rod Clark spoke to the media and gave his thoughts on Tennessee’s freshmen, the play of Josiah-Jordan James, and the challenge of playing a team the caliber of Illinois.
“First of all, really good team we got coming in. Really good team,” Clark said on Friday. “I think they’re big, they’re versatile. They have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. You know, their five man sometimes can look like their point guard. Their point guard can sometimes look like their five man. Their two guard can look like a four man. And those are, in today’s day and age in positionless basketball is, that’s what everybody wants. That’s what we’ve tried to mimic as we’ve continued with our team. So they’re a really good team, man. They do a lot of funky things defensively. They’re very handsy. I think they’re No. 1 in the country in field goal defense. So we’ll have our hands full, man. They’re a really good team. We’re excited to have them come in here.”
In addition to Clark, Tennessee also had freshman forward Cade Phillips speak to the media for a few moments. Phillips talked about Welcome to College Basketball moments early on, the coaching style of Rick Barnes, and much more.
No. 17 Tennessee and No. 20 Illinois will tip off at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday in Knoxville.
Check out both interviews from Friday afternoon below:
Tennessee Assistant Coach Rod Clark
Tennessee Forward Cade Phillips