February 15, 2013
Vols welcome Wildcats to Knoxville
Tennessee (13-10, 5-6 ) will be shooting for its third straight win on Saturday against visiting Kentucky (17-7, 8-3) and trying to avenge an earlier loss in Lexington. The Vols will have the benefit of tussling with the 'Cats in their first game since losing freshman superstar Nerlens Noel to a season ending injury.
Injuries are of course, part of the game, but no one who's competitor ever seems entirely comfortable with catching a break as large as the one Noel's torn ACL on Tuesday seems to have offered the Vols.
On Friday Cuonzo Martin didn't try to downplay the potential impact of playing wihtout the SEC's leading shot blocker and rebounder might have on the 'Cats, but he was also quick to point out that the Wildcats cupboard is hardly bare.
"I don't know how much it's going to change them as a team. I haven't seen them play much without him outside of those 12 minutes in the second half against Florida after he got hurt. They can still score the ball though, they have plenty of weapons offensively," Martin said in assessing the 'Cats without Noel.
"They'll still be able to put three or four guys on the perimeter that can make shots and make plays. Obviously though, it's a major loss defensively, losing a guy of that caliber and everything that he brings to the table."
Noel's presence in the post had a major impact in the first match-up last month in Lexington. He controlled the paint with nine rebounds and six blocks, adding 12 points in a 75-65 Kentucky win.
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