Some thoughts and observations about the weekend that was for Tennessee basketball:
The Uros Plavsic story continued on Saturday. The former Hamilton Heights Christian Academy standout started again and scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and played a season-high 27 minutes, 38 seconds in the Vols’ 64-50 victory over No. 13 LSU at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The 7-foot forward’s starts in the past two games have coincided with Tennessee’s first winning streak in a month.
Coincidence? Maybe. I definitely think there’s a correlation between Plavsic’s role and Tennessee’s feisty play in both games. Plavsic has been in the middle of that action in both games. On Saturday, it got started before the game with some words before warm-ups.
“They wanted to win the fight; we wanted to win the basketball game,” Plavsic said. “We did what we wanted to do. . . . I think we did both actually.”
That kind of quote makes a good story better.
“His emotion and energy have been a big shot in the arm for us,” UT coach Rick Barnes said. “I think it helps the other players. He’s very authentic. There’s nothing phony about it.”
Speaking of winning streaks: The Lady Vols won their ninth consecutive game on Sunday, 63-55 at No. 13 Georgia.
The Lady Vols won with what has become their formula: defense, rebounding, Jordan Horston’s productivity and whatever else it takes. In this case, they overcame a nine-point first half deficit and 21 turnovers.
Georgia coach Joni Taylor has taken note of the Lady Vols’ improved consistency this season under third-year coach Kellie Harper.
“Tennessee has always been very, very talented,” she said. “I think at times in the past couple of years, you just never knew what Tennessee team was going to show up. If the right Tennessee team showed up, they could beat anybody in the country. If the wrong Tennessee team showed up, maybe not.
“I’m not in their office every day. I’m not in their practices. I think Kellie and her staff do an amazing job. I just know when we play them, it’s a competitive game and a tough game. The difference this year is that she’s continued to bring in, in my opinion, her players and they’re playing hard for her. They play well, they have great chemistry and they look like they’re having a lot of fun out there.”
What about Green: The Lady Vols’ victory, at least temporarily, overshadowed the knee injury suffered by Keyen Green. The 6-foot-1 post player left the game in the third quarter and didn’t return. Harper didn’t have an update afterward.
If the injury turns out to be serious, it will be a significant blow to the Lady Vols’ depth. Green is averaging 14.6 minutes per game, along with seven points and 3.2 rebounds. Horston mentioned Green and starting center Tamari Key as being “major factors in our team.”
“The game is different when they’re in,” Horston said.
About the guards: After starting with a tribute to a 7-footer, I’ll end with some love for the guards.
Horston’s stat line Sunday was All-American worthy: 19 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and just two turnovers.
For the Vols, Santiago Vescovi had 16 points and five assists against LSU. In Barnes’ estimation, the 6-3 Vescovi plays bigger than his size, not 7-foot big, but bigger.
“With his effort and his defense,” Barnes said. “He plays like he’s 6-7.”
Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.