Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee forwards Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips are questionable for the Vols’ Wednesday night matchup against No. 1 Alabama.
“It will be game-day ready,” Barnes said. “We won’t do much with either of them today, obviously. Let them try to get as healed as they possibly can. If not, whatever we have, we’ve got to go play.”
James suffered a left ankle sprain in the final minute of Tennessee’s loss at Vanderbilt which the Vols called “day-to-day”. The senior wing was questionable for Tennessee’s matchup against Missouri but did not dress out or go through warm ups.
Phillips suffered a hip flexer strain in Tennessee’s practice last Friday and attempted to play through it against Missouri. The five-star freshman played 10 minutes in the first half, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds before not returning in the second half.
“I was really impressed with Julian,” Barnes said Monday. “He was hurt, he had hurt his hip flexor prior to that. His minutes, he was there, he was productive. But I could tell when we were walking off the court at halftime he was painfully hurting. But he wanted to play, but just no way.”
Both James and Phillips are Tennessee starters and their absences would be significant on their own. But the combination of both being out would be particularly costly. Both wings play the same position and have the ability to play as the four in Tennessee’s small ball lineups.
That’s all in addition to Alabama having the best wing in the country: freshman Brandon Miller. Miller is averaging 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a game.
If James and Phillips aren’t available sophomore wing Jahmai Mashack will see even more playing time.
“He did a great job Saturday just competing as hard as a person can compete,” Barnes said of Mashack. “It’s always when someone goes down, it gives someone the chance to play and they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t good players. It will give them the opportunity to see what they can do.”
Tip-off between Tennessee and Alabama at Thompson-Boling Arena is at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN2 is broadcasting the game.