After playing top 20 KenPom teams in five of its first nine games, Tennessee basketball faces a tame four-game stretch to close out non conference play.
Tennessee hosts Georgia Southern on Tuesday night before traveling to San Antonio to face an average North Carolina State team. The Vols then return home for matchups against Tarleton State and Norfolk State on either side of Christmas.
The Vols enter the home stretch of pre conference play with an eight-man rotation and looking to find consistency from freshmen to become a deeper team. That starts with practice as head coach Rick Barnes has emphasized the need for improved preparation from that group.
“Well, one, we have to do — everybody on this team, their part. There’s no guarantee that those guys will get in and have the opportunity to play,” Tennessee assistant coach Gregg Polinsky said Monday. “I mean that’s all dependent upon, like coach talked about for the Illinois game, what they do in practice, have they earned their minutes? That’s where you earn your minutes. And second, do we play well enough or find time periods or lineups where these guys can get in there, get some experience and excel.”
Tennessee currently plays with the 25th fastest pace offensively and the 309th fastest pace defensively nationally. Expending more energy on the defensive end of the court emphasized the need for Tennessee to find consistency and another reliable rotation player from its freshman class.