"We talked about it a lot, not so much offensively where we want to go get it, but trying to do it on the defensive end".
Rather, trying to win the Volunteers' first tournament championship in nearly 40 years is always where the Tennessee junior expected to be - even when the Rocky Top faithful were disappointed by a preseason pick of 13th in the SEC.
The Volunteers hit 11 of their first 12 shots overall and 19 of 25 (76 percent) in the first half on the way to a 48-29 halftime lead. One will take the SEC's automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament and the other will be an at-large. Davis is now shooting 53.7 percent from the floor, 36.2 percent from three-point range and 82.7 percent from the free-throw line. He laid it in to put United Kingdom ahead 64-62. Gabriel's shot rimmed out, but Sacha Killeya-Jones, with the play of the game, grabbed the offensive board and slammed the ball back for 2 points.
Gabriel missed a three-pointer from the left corner - despite audible anticipation from United Kingdom fans.
"To give up 22 offensive rebounds and one assist and you have a chance to win, that would be pretty wonderful, to be honest with you", Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. He was 7 for 7 in the half and scored 17 of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes. Play resumed after a 10-minute stoppage. Gilgeous-Alexander closes the contest with two more free throws.
The team won a Southeastern Conference regular season co-championship and advanced to Sunday's SEC Tournament final.
The Cats made 84.2 percent of their shots in the second half against the Tide.
Calipari has a 718-203 all-time on-court record. That included a pair of three-pointers. Tennessee is now 7-0 in rematch games this season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox have already combined for 20 points. Gilgeous-Alexander won the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and walked out of the Scottrade Center with the nylon draped around his neck.
Thereafter Schofield reminded everyone that the competition had not been completed. In addition to Bone, Admiral Schofield dropped in 16 points while Kyle Alexander, James Daniel III and Grant Williams all contributed 12 points each.
Barnes was concerned about Schofield and Williams finding better shots, so as the offense flowed and ran through almost everyone on the floor, the adjustments worked and Tennessee tagged the Razorbacks from all over the floor.
Kentucky scored 57 points in the second half Saturday against Alabama. Bone's fast-break floater tied it at 38-38 with 17:25 left. Jordan Bone scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half and the Volunteers won their sixth straight game. We got back in the game, had a chance.
Kentucky has a coaching advantage with Coach Cal who has forgotten more conference championship games than some coaches have played.
Then it was Tennessee's turn to call timeout.