KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The number one Vols take on South Carolina at home on Wednesday, exactly one year to the day that they played the Gamecocks at home in 2018.
Grant Williams scored 22 points in that game but his production dipped slightly down the stretch in 2018.
Williams averaged 15.9 points per game in the first 24 contests of the 2017-18 season. In the last 11, including the Feb. 13 South Carolina game, that number dipped to 13.5. Not a huge difference, and he still earned SEC Player of the Year honors, but the Vols would prefer he finish the season stronger.
The Charlotte, N.C. native is off to an even better start to the 2018-19 season. His numbers are up significantly across the board, including an SEC-best 19.9 points per game.
Rick Barnes thinks he can sustain it.
"He was dealing with some things with his body that we don't talk about. But, he'll do it," Barnes said.
"I do know, being a year older and a year wiser, these guys understand that there's still a lot of basketball left to play to achieve the goals we want to achieve, and I expect him to do what he always does to take care of his body. I think he will; his conditioning is better than it was a year ago. I still think he will keep getting better there, and he needs too."
Barnes also pointed out that Admiral Schofield really heated up around this time last year. He averaged 12.3 points in the first 24 games last season but in the final 11 contests he put up 17.5 points per game, including four 20-point performances and a spot on the SEC All-Tournament team.
Schofield is averaging 16.5 points through the first 23 games this season.
Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) hosts South Carolina Wednesday at 6:30 on the SEC Network. A date with no. 5 Kentucky at Rupp Arena looms large on Saturday.