Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tennessee Hoping to Play Its Way into NCAA Consideration

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Tennessee Hoping to Play Its Way into NCAA Consideration

Article excerpt

He wants to make sure his young team is ready to do something about it.

The Vols (12-9, 4-4 SEC) just went 3-0 during a home stretch that included an 82-80 upset of No. 8 Kentucky, which was ranked fourth at the time of the game. That surge has made Tennessee a potential NCAA Tournament contender if the Vols can maintain this momentum. "It's there, Barnes said. "To act like they don't read about it, you'd be living a lie if you thought that. But the fact is we've got to make sure they know how to channel their energies to the process that we're going through.

Tennessee's postseason aspirations could become clearer during an upcoming two-game road trip. The Vols visit Auburn (14-7, 3-5) on Tuesday and Mississippi State (13-7, 4-4) on Saturday.

Although Tennessee's 12-9 record isn't particularly impressive, the Vols are 41st overall and fifth among SEC teams in the RPI . Tennessee has played a schedule ranked by statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy as the toughest in the country.

That makes Tennessee an intriguing postseason possibility if it can improve its record over the final month.

"You don't want to hide from it, Barnes said. "You have to embrace it. But you also have to understand that talking about it's not going to get it done. What's going to get it done is to do your job. That means getting prepared. We've got to continue to get better as a team.

"That's what happens this time of year. The teams that always stay in the conversation with postseason play are those teams that stay on task. They understand that you've got to get better in different aspects of what you're doing as a team and you have to get better as individuals.

The fact Tennessee could merit NCAA Tournament consideration at all is a surprising development.

Tennessee had to replace three of the top four scorers from a team that went 15-19 last season. …

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