COLUMBUS, Ohio — This Vols team has accomplished a lot together this season -- the longest winning streak in school history, the program's second (and longest) number one ranking, and beating Kentucky in the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1979.
But there's more work to be done. Those things add to the legacy, but Tennessee's goals were always set higher.
"Our goal is to be legendary. We want to be legends at Tennessee when you think about this team ten years from now," redshirt junior guard Lamonte Turner said before the Vols practice on Saturday at Nationwide Arena.
The win against no. 10 seed Iowa on Sunday pushed the Vols on to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history and markeed the 31st win of the season, matching the 2007-08 team for the most in a season in school history.
It's also given a close group of friends at least one more opportunity to play together. And that means something.
"You definitely think about it, I’m not gonna lie to you," senior center Kyle Alexander said. "Me and Admiral stayed up late the other night and we were in the (hotel) room sharing memories from freshman year and sophomore year, it’s been a long ride and it’s been a heck of a ride. Thinking about when it is all over, it’ll be so weird for me to not have these guys around me everyday. As a senior you’ve gotta win or it’s all over, I’m definitely thinking about that but you can’t play with a scared mindset. You have to play with an encouraging, like let’s keep this thing going, let’s do something special."
Roommates Kyle Alexander and Admiral Schofield have played more than 120 games together in orange and white. They have a chance to play five more at most, but they'll have to earn each one of them.
"We realized that going into the SEC Tournament, that these are the last days with this group so you just want to take advantage of every moment you can share with each other and take advantage of the time we have on the floor and not taking anything for granted as far as competing at a high level and enjoying each other out there," Schofield said.
Turner arrived at Tennessee along with Schofield and Alexander in 2015 but redshirted during his first season so he has another year left. He wants to help finish what the group started - going from a sub-.500 team to a national championship contender.
"We obviously have big goals and big dreams and we've had that since we got here," Turner said. "We know that anything is possible, we know we've put the work in to do whatever we want to do and be whatever we want to be so we're going to keep working, we're going to keep achieving our dreams and we're not going to beat ourselves."
A win Sunday gives the Vols more time together and puts them one step closer to legend status on Rocky Top.
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