No. 22 Tennessee basketball is back in action on Wednesday night to open the Battle 4 Atlantis following a week off. In the first of three games in three days while in the Bahamas, the Vols (2-1) are scheduled to tip off with Butler (3-1) at 7 pm ET.
GoVols247’s Ben McKee will be providing live updates and thoughts throughout the game on The Checkerboard. You can follow along for coverage throughout the night by clicking the link below.
***LIVE UPDATES: No. 22 Tennessee basketball vs. Butler***
This week marks Tennessee’s third time participating in the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Vols took home a fifth-place finish in 2013 and a third-place finish in 2017. The Vols are 4-2 overall in the event.
Tennessee will play three games in the Bahamas this week. Following its game against Butler, it’ll either play USC (3-1) or BYU (3-1) on Thanksgiving day at either 1:30 or 6:30 pm ET. The Vols will then play their third and final game of the week on Friday against an opponent to be determined later. Possible opponents include Kansas, Dayton, Wisconsin or NC State.
Here’s what Rick Barnes told the media on Tuesday about facing Butler and this week’s Battle 4 Atlantis.
Barnes’ opening statement:
“We appreciate the opportunity to be here. We realize it’s a great field here as always. I think it’s a tournament that players really look forward to being part of. We’re here and we’re just looking forward to having three days of basketball. And hoping we can win some basketball games.”
How playing three games in three days can help a transfer like Tyreke Key:
“I think right now, too, getting to play three games here, it seems like we’ve had a game, week off, had a game. The fact that you get three games, I do think we’re going to find out a lot here, with the fact that it’s going to be back-to-back-to-back. With Tyreke coming in, he’s been a terrific addition to our program. But it’s new for him. He hasn’t played in a year and a half, before he got started here with us. I think every time he gets going out, it’s going to help him. He’s been a great teammate with our guys. He’s a versatile player. He needs to play with these guys. Same with Julian Phillip. We need to continue to get him working there. Having Olivier (Nkamhoua) back, we lost him at the end of January last year. So those three guys, again, this should be a great week for all of us, but I think for those three guys, it could be really beneficial in the fact that they can get the reps they need to get.”
On if he expects Uros Plavsic to be available for the Butler game:
“Yeah, he’ll be back. We’re getting ready to work out here in a little bit. He’s only had one workout since the game at Colorado when he turned his ankle. But he’ll be back here. He’ll go today.
On if he is eager to see if his team learned its lesson from the Colorado loss:
“I think the fact is they know everybody can play because everybody can play. You talk about the transfer portal, there are teams like Thad (Matta), he is a terrific coach. He has been around a long time. If you look at his team in particular, they play hard. They are aggressive. They get their hands on a lot of basketball, get heavy in the gaps. Solid teams like the teams I have coached (against) through the years. In a short time, he has put together a program, these guys have proven they can play. Everybody can play. I think that is what the older guys here would tell you, they were disappointed in the fact that we could let an opportunity get away from us. It did. If we don’t learn from it, it is a shame on us. We have to know we have to be ready to go play every single night. We are not good enough that we cannot come out with the attitude that we are going to have to fight for everything that we need to get.”
On what his experience with Butler coach Thad Matt has been and seeing him back in coaching:
“I do know Thad. We have coached against each other. Thad is a terrific coach. He is an extremely sound (coach). There is nothing he is going to try to do to trick you. He is going to line up. He is going to guard you. He is going to be extremely sound fundamentally on both sides. Pass the ball. Shoot the ball. Play inside-out. Good balance. Aggressive. They look to attack, create offense with their defense. I think again that is how I would think about his teams. I think the fact he is working for a terrific AD in Barry Collier. I coached against Barry years ago when he was at Nebraska. I am not surprised because I know Thad loves the game. You are away from it and you have a chance to come back to a place and work for a guy you know well. I understand it completely. There is no question he is going to do a terrific job because he is at a place he believes in and he is working for a guy who believes in what he is trying to get done, what they want to get done there. Being in the Big East now is only going to help him recruit the kind of players he needs to recruit to play at the highest level and compete night in and night out, which he has done everywhere he has ever been.”