No. 7 Tennessee preparing for No. 1 Gonzaga
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee wants to capitalize on a second chance to beat an elite opponent as the Volunteers adapt to the higher expectations accompanying their Top 10 ranking.
The seventh-ranked Vols (6-1) let a golden opportunity slip away two weeks ago when they squandered a second-half lead in an 87-81 overtime loss to No. 2 Kansas. They’re hoping t he lessons learned that night pay off Sunday when they play No. 1 Gonzaga (9-0) at the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix.
“I thought we were a little too emotional at the beginning of that (Kansas) game,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “Hopefully, we won’t be like that going forward.”
The Tennessee-Gonzaga game is part of a doubleheader that has No. 6 Nevada (8-0) facing Grand Canyon (5-3).
This game represents one more chance for Tennessee to make a statement and show it’s a legitimate contender to make a run at a Final Four for the first time in program history.
Tennessee opened the year No. 6 in the Top 25 for its highest preseason ranking. Tennessee returned its top six scorers from a team that won a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season title last year.
The Vols showed their potential last month by taking a nine-point, second-half lead over Kansas in the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York.
Now they want to prove