BY LARRY VAUGHT
Tennessee junior Grant Williams, the likely SEC Player of the Year again this season, knows his team’s 71-52 win over UK last week in Knoxville likely won’t be the last time the teams play.
Last year UK beat the Vols in the SEC Tournament title game in St. Louis and the two could meet in the SEC tourney semifinals or final next week in Nashville.
“It would be fun if there was a rematch. You expect to play guys like that in Nashville and the tournament,” Williams, who had 24 points and seven rebounds in the win, said.
“You never know when we’ll see them again. I feel like we will, and again, it’ll be another crazy environment. If you’re a competitor, you love to play in it. You’re going to be excited, you’re going to be ready to go, and just like last year, we played them three times. Hopefully, it’s the same this year.”
Kentucky easily beat Tennessee in Rupp Arena in mid-February in a game that Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said his team played “selfish” basketball. Kentucky coach John Calipari said much the same thing after the loss in Knoxville.
Williams said the Vols felt they “didn’t really compete” at Lexington. He said that was not UK’s problem in Knoxville.
“I feel like for them they really tried to be aggressive. Maybe they have a little bit of doubt because some shots didn’t go in, but I think they really competed,” Williams said. “For us, we were playing selfishly. I wouldn’t say they played that way.”
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said it would be a mistake to write off UK’s postseason chances because of the loss in Knoxville.
“They will go back and it will make them better. They will get better because we have gotten better defensively since the Kentucky game in Rupp Arena,” Barnes said. “We came back and realized that we had to get better defensively. They will come back the same way.”