Cuonzo Martin brings a Missouri team to Thompson-Boling arena Tuesday night that has only notched two conference wins. The Tigers have struggled of late, winning only one game in the month of January.
The Volunteers sit atop the college hoops world with their third straight week in the #1 spot in the AP Poll, but Rick Barnes and the Vols know it's tough to beat a conference opponent twice. "Well it is like a round robin. You are in a conference where you play teams twice. There is adjustments and familiarity with it. You expect to them to make adjustments, and they expect us to make adjustments. Just the fact that both teams know each other, and its happening this week with Missouri and Florida. It is different when you are playing a round robin. Our conference is different, and we do it with two other teams outside of our conference. It is more like a regular conference to be played." said Rick Barnes
Rick Barnes says Martin's teams should be well respected no matter the record, "I don't know if you've ever seen Coach Martin play, but he was a good player, and he was a hard, tough-nosed guy that you knew, if you weren't ready to play, he was going to come after you. I think his teams are like that. They play hard, they shoot the ball well. I think they make nine 3-pointers every game, and they're efficient with it. I think they've got a couple guys that shoot a really good percentage, but when you get the inside game going with Tillman, it really makes it more difficult. He's a very talented player and can do some things. Cuonzo is one of the finest people I've been around. My first year, I bumped into him, I think we were in Augusta, Georgia, and we were checking into a hotel at the same time. He said 'you're going to love being at Tennessee.' He said the people are great, and I've got a lot of respect for him, because I'm not so sure he was treated here the way he really should've been treated. I can tell you, there's not a finer person and a finer man. I know one thing, if my son ever wanted to play for him as a player, I'd want him to play for him. He's that kind of person that you'd want your son to be around every day."