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Jan 23, 2019

GoVols247's Wes Rucker and Grant Ramey went into Fort Rucker Studio to break down a historic week for the Tennessee basketball program.

The Vols overcame a dreadful second half to outlast rival Alabama over the weekend at Thompson-Boling Arena, and that coupled with losses by Duke and Michigan took Tennessee from the No. 3 spot to the No. 1 spot in both major polls for just the second time in program history.

A special group of players took their lumps early in the Rick Barnes era, and now they’re rolling under future Hall of Fame coach Rick Barnes — who became just the sixth coach in college basketball history to take multiple programs to a No. 1 ranking. He turned the trick at Texas, and now he’s done at Tennessee.

The Vols aren’t satisfied with a No. 1 ranking in January, though. Far from it. This Tennessee team has designs on hanging banners in Thompson-Boling, and it seems to have the tools to make that dream a reality. But Barnes said this team hasn’t come close to reaching its full potential despite a 16-1 record and a 5-0 start to SEC play.

In fairness to Barnes, Tennessee’s past two second halves has been far from the Vols’ best. Tennessee coasted to a 106-87 win over Arkansas last week despite being outscored in the second half, and the Vols turned a double-digit halftime lead over Alabama into a two-score deficit before rallying to turn back the Tide. Did last week’s performances show cracks in the facade, or were they simply a couple of bad second-halves at the office? Will they prove to be the start of a trend, or will they ultimately be dismissed as outliers?

Contrasting two polar-opposite topics — Tennessee’s rise to the No. 1 ranking, and Tennessee playing arguably its worst game of the season — isn’t a simple thing, but both of those (and several more) topics are discussed in this episode.