In case you still have a doubt about this year's Tennessee basketball team, forget about it. The Vols are for real. Over the past week, I've heard several basketball pundits say that Tennessee was the best team in the country and the Volunteers are proving it each time they hit the floor. Tennessee is 13-1 on the year, 2-0 in SEC play and currently ranked third nationally. I've even seen comparisons to this team with the "Ernie and Bernie" teams of the late 70's. I agree to a point but here is where the difference is. If Bernard King had been held to a mere two points and one rebound as Grant Williams was on Tuesday night at Missouri, that team would have been hard pressed to get a win, no matter how many points Ernie Grunfeld scored.
With Williams being held to a season low, the Vols still plastered the Tigers 86-63 for their ninth straight win.
When the season started, there were great expectations from Tennessee fans. Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams are two of the premiere players in the SEC but since the season started Jordan Bone has emerged as one of the best two or three point guards in the country and center Kyle Alexander has also picked up his game considerably. Alexander had 14 points and 17 rebounds against Mizzou on Tuesday night.
Tennessee has as much depth as any team in the country. That's been proven time and time again so far this season as the Vols have carved out thirteen wins in fourteen starts. We're at the midway point of the 2019 season and, while it's possible Tennessee could run the table and finish the season with just one loss, it's not very likely. The SEC is as tough as any from top to bottom and the very next game for the Big Orange is at Florida on Saturday. They must still play Kentucky and Auburn and they could even lose a couple of games down the stretch and still be a number one or two seed for the NCAA Tournament in March.
Every game at Thompson-Boling Arena has been sold out this season so far and that's not going to change. This team has given a lot of those Big Orange fanatics something to feel good about while the Tennessee football team has continued to struggle for the past decade. Even that has taken a big turn for the better as Coach Jeremy Pruitt continues to recruit well. His hiring of Jim Chaney to return as the team's offensive coordinator is a wonderful move.
This is a special team with a special coach in Rick Barnes. Vol fans, enjoy this team while you can. It may be a long time before another team this good emerges on Rocky Top.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org