No. 22 Tennessee is set to face off against Atlantic Sun opponent Florida Gulf Coast at home on Wednesday.
The Vols (1-1) are looking to get back on track following Sunday’s loss to Colorado where they shot an abysmal 25.4% from the field and 27% from three-point range.
“I can’t say much about it,” Barnes said. “You look at the shooting numbers, with our guards and their turnovers, it’s just a bad day for us. But again, I don’t want to take anything away from Colorado. They deserved to win. I thought they controlled the game pretty much from start to finish.”
Rick Barnes says to expect some changes in the starting lineup as a result of the loss. Josiah-Jordan James was not among the starters against the Buffaloes due to his injury and will likely move back in. It’s just a matter of time.
The decision-making out of the guard play left Barnes with more questions than answers. Santiago Vescovi struggled early and let it affect him the rest of the game.
Zakai Zeigler was much the same.
“Tonight, he was out of control,” Barnes said. “He was totally out of control to the point where I’ve already told him ‘you’re not starting’ because him starting the game hasn’t worked very well in terms of the way we want to get started. So we’ll have to make a decision on how we want to go that way.”
Zeigler came off the bench last year behind Kennedy Chandler and was an instant spark plug for the Vols’ offense. During SEC Media Day, Zeigler actually asked Barnes to keep him in that same role, and perhaps he will return to last year’s production with a switch to the bench.
Barnes will likely have to adjust without starting center Uros Plavsic, as well, who left early against Colorado with an ankle injury.
The Vols will look to use the matchup with FGCU to fine-tune some things and figure out a rotation before the highly anticipated Battle 4 Atlantis next week.
Tennessee has never faced the Eagles but is 19-1 all-time against A-Sun opponents, and Rick Barnes is a perfect 10-0 against them.
FGCU is 2-1 coming off a 105-61 win over Ave Maria of the NAIA, where they knocked down a school record of 17 threes. The Eagles are under new head coach Pat Chambers, who coached Penn State from 2011-19 to 2019.
Barnes has never lost to a team from Florida at home during his tenure with the Vols. Tennessee hasn’t only been good against Florida teams in TBA, either. The Vols are riding a streak of 18 consecutive wins at home, dating back to Feb. 20, 2021, against Kentucky.
Tennessee has no plans to end that streak, and the Vols are looking to prove themselves after Sunday’s performance. Now that the Vols have seen that talent alone isn’t going to win games, expect them to come out hungry for the win.
“It’s a long basketball season, and I’m just excited to see how this team will respond,” James said.
The Vols didn’t really shine in any category against Colorado, and Barnes and his squad know that needs to change. Tennessee will look to use its matchup with FGCU to improve in all facets of the game and find an identity. Tip-off in Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 7 p.m. EST.