Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- On Monday, the Vols began their second week as the nation's top ranked college basketball team. On Tuesday, the'll put that number one ranking on the line when their travel to Columbia, South Carolina to take on Frank Martin's Gamecocks.
In the preseason, South Carolina was expected to finished near the bottom of the SEC standings.
As of Monday, the Gamecocks are 5-1 in league play and tied for third place with Kentucky.
South Carolina is 10-9 overall, and did get off to a slow start. But when asked about this South Carolina team, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said, "Preseason rankings are not something coaches care about. Frank Martin’s got some guys on his squad from that Final Four team. It was just a matter of time before they got going."
Regardless of Carolina's record or Tennessee's ranking, Coach Barnes knows his team will give their best shot.
"Going into South Carolina against Frank Martin’s team, it wouldn’t matter if his guys were ranked No. 1 or not," Barnes said. "It’ll be a great atmosphere!"
As for putting that lofty ranking on the line, Coach Barnes added,
"When you have a No. 1 ranking, it brings out the best in people. We just have to stay together."
Coach Barnes is no doubt proud of the effort put forth by team leader Grant Williams, who was named SEC player of the week for his performances against Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
However, the coach knows he's going to need contributions from others if this team is going to make a serious run at a national title.
"We need (John) Fulkerson and (Derek) Walker to defend and set screens and bring energy off the bench," Barnes said. "We need them a lot."
He'll also need Admiral Schofield, who's been struggling of late.
"Admiral works so hard and is at his best when he rebounds the ball," Barnes said. "He just has to trust himself and play his game and he’ll be fine."
Tip-off between the Vols and Gamecocks Tuesday night will be
6:30 p.m.ET. The SEC Network will have the broadcast.