Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- After an intense game against Alabama Saturday afternoon in Thompson-Boiling Arena, and some other pieces to the puzzle which would fall into place, the Rick Barnes-led Vols would vault to the top of the college basketball world.
Their next test: a trip to Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night to battle the Vanderbilt Commodores.
"I think that team is going to play very hard" Barnes said in his Wednesday press conference. "They have really good offensive schemes that will spread you out".
Despite the five conference losses on the schedule, arguably Vanderbilt's biggest loss was losing Freshman Point Guard Darius Garland to a season-ending injury.
Garland, a consensus 5-Star according to Rivals out of high school, had torn his meniscus against Kent State in late-November. Despite only playing 5 games, Garland still leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.2 Ppg.
"Really tough season for the Commodores. This looks like a really good match-up for Tennessee" according to Volquest's Rob Lewis."We always think of Vandy being that great shooting team, they do not have that this year".
Led by the dynamic duo of Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams, the Vols currently lead the SEC in points per game as an offense.
Heading into another road SEC game, Rick Barnes wants his team to turn up the heat on defense, especially after watching Alabama fight it’s way back into last Saturday’s contest. A
"When you have the mindset that you think you can go out there and outscore people on offense, there is a tendency to letdown in areas that you know you shouldn't" Barnes said. I do think we've improved offensively. But I want to see us improve defensively".
This trip to the Music City is eerily similar to Tennessee’s visit back in February of 2008, that’s the last time the Vols reached a #1 and the Commodores were the very next team on Tennessee's schedule. The top ranking for the Bruce Pearl led Vols would be short lived with UT losing to the Dores 72-69
Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams look to rewrite the script Wednesday night 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2.