Following a 93-85 (4 OT) victory against Texas A&M, the Tennessee Volunteers (16-10, 8-6 SEC) will be looking to continue their late season success against the No. 8 Florida Gators (22-4, 12-2) on Tuesday.
The Vols find themselves on a five-game winning streak after the victory against the Aggies. This stretch of great play has the Vol players feeling confident, and head coach Cuonzo Martin says that it has really affected the way they are playing, especially from behind the arc, where the team has shot 31.9 percent on the season, but 61 percent the past three games.
"I think confidence is the most important thing outside of what we do on the court and how we do it," Martin said. "It is still the same team, still the same players, but when you have the confidence, you feel good about yourself. You are talking about a team that was not making 3-point shots at all. Now you go five-for-five, 10-for-15 and 10-21 from the 3-point line. It is the same guys. It is just a level of confidence, believing in themselves and more importantly not giving up, and I give them a lot of credit for that."
Some have wondered if the Vols will come out a little sluggish against the Gators because of the quadruple overtime game, but senior guard Skylar McBee doesn't think that that will be the case.
"You're tired, you are playing another half of basketball," McBee said. "It's a little bit more exhausting than a regular game, so there is a little bit of a fatigue factor there, but that's part of it. We're going to have to battle through that, and I think having that day yesterday (Sunday) where we just watched film and didn't really do a lot on the floor and kind of recuperated, I think that's enough to play this game."
A key matchup in this game could be Florida's forward Erik Murphy against freshman guard Amani Moore, who is expected to be guarding Murphy. Murphy plays a lot like Kentucky's Kyle Weljer, and McBee believes that Amani Moore should do a good job covering the versatile four-man.
"Him (Murphy) and Weljer both are a tough guard, especially when you got two conventional bigs," McBee said. "With the four guard lineup that we've been playing, I don't think it's going to be as big of a problem and I think Amani has been doing a great job, he's a bigger, stronger guy and he's as close as we have to being able to transition on defense, where he can sort of play both (the post up and the pick and pop)."
If the Vols are able to win this game, it could be the victory that puts them in the NCAA Tournament, but junior guard Jordan McRae says the team isn't looking at it that way.
"We're not looking at it as a game for NCAA," McRae said. "We're just looking at it as a game to keep up our winning going and as a good game to go into Georgia, and we're just looking to win as many games as we can going into the SEC Tournament."
The game will tip-off from Thompson-Boling Arena at 9 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPN.