The Tennessee Volunteers will have their hands full Saturday when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Thompson-Boling Arena at 5 p.m.
One thing the Vols cannot allow Alabama to do is let sophomore forward Tony Mitchell find his hot hand.
Against Mississippi State, Mitchell recorded 23 points and kept the Crimson Tide (14-7,6-1 SEC) atop the SEC standings. Mitchell can create his own shots with his dribble drive abilities and can light it up from outside the 3-point arch, as the Bulldogs found out in the second half.
To combat Mitchell's presence, the Vols must see ample production again from Brian Williams, who came off the bench and logged some quality minutes for the Vols on the road in their 74-57 win against Ole Miss, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Associate head coach Tony Jones, who will be in his final game as interim coach for the Vols before Bruce Pearl takes over his normal duties, said that Williams' last game against Ole Miss was one they expect from the 6'10", 272-pound senior center.
"That's the type of player we envisioned that he could be if has the mindset on the offensive end," Jones said. "We told him before the game that (Ole Miss) didn't have the size to contend with him on the interior. This is a game where he could be effective offensively, and he did that."
Junior Scotty Hopson scored 16 points in the win against Ole Miss and is always a key factor in the Vols winning or losing any games this season. However, Hopson's status for Saturday's game is unknown with a left ankle sprain. He didn't travel with the team for Thursday night's game at Auburn. Freshman Tobias Harris, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, has been sensational for the Vols down the stretch and will be a large role in the scoring department for UT, depsite being limited by an ankle injury himself.
Harris is averaging just less than 15 points and logging almost 30 minutes per game. Distractions and skids have been a problem for the Volunteers amidst the Pearl suspension and offensive woes, but Harris believes that the team is in a good position and mindset to finish the year strong.
"It's definitely tough," Harris said. "But at the same time, we know as a team what we need to do to win."