The Memphis Tigers will be coming to Knoxville to play Tennessee basketball, and the Vols won’t be backing down from the over-hyped Tigers.
Rick Barnes is trying to keep Tennessee basketball on track before SEC play begins, and he will face his biggest test of the season when 15-ranked Memphis comes to town this Saturday.
Penny Hardaway and the Tigers will be playing their first game against the Vols since last year’s meltdown. Hardaway looked like he was running a circus down in the City of Blues weeks after the Vols took down the Tigers.
Barnes remained professional throughout the weeks after the game, but that didn’t keep Hardaway from taking shots at Barnes and his players.
Well, last year was last year. Tennessee has pretty much a completely new team, so it will be a new challenge for Barnes and his Vols.
Although this is a very different team, a lot of the new players have not backed down from the upcoming game with the Tigers.
"“Everybody on the team is excited and we want to play that game,” freshman forward Olivier Nkamhoua said after the Florida A&M win. “That’s one of the biggest games we’ve all been looking forward to.”“Obviously every single game we look forward to, but it’s just a good amount of hype around the Memphis game this year.”"
Olivier Nkamhoua obviously wasn’t apart of the game last year being a freshman this year. It seems like he’s aware of what this game means for the program and the state going into this Saturday.
The players seem excited for the game this year, and it’s going to be in Thompson-Bowling Arena, so it’s going to be a wild atmosphere for the game.
Lamonte Turner took a more business approach to the week leading up to the game, saying the team as a whole needs to keep working on getting better before the game.
"“Just getting in the film room and watching film,” Turner said. “Learn from our mistakes. Take care of our bodies, making sure we’re ready to go.”“We’ll have a lot of time off to scout. So we just have to handle the business side of things and understand the importance of that.”"
Memphis will be treating this game like a business trip, as well. No games, all business. Anything less and Penny Hardaway might be leaving Knoxville 0-2 against the Vols.
Last year, Tennessee won by ten points. I expect this game to stay close and I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to the final two minutes before a winner pulls away or hits a clutch shot under a minute.
It’s going to be a fun game on Saturday where there won’t be much going on in the sports world. Tennessee will have the opportunity to prove to America they’re the real deal again this year.