KNOXVILLE—Tennessee senior forward Admiral Schofield sat courtside inside Thompson-Boling Arena playing a guitar while singing Adele’s “Someone Like You.”
ESPN’s Laura Rutledge shared a video of Schofield’s musical talent on social media Tuesday, and it didn’t take long for it to go viral, racking up more than 734,000 views on Twitter as of Friday.
It also provided the latest example of why the top-ranked Vols have also become one of the most likable teams in the country.
“I want our guys personalities to come out,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I think part of the process of them going through college is them learning how to deal with media. It’s a great opportunity to let people see their personalities and a great opportunity to show what our program is about.
“We’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe we’re trying to be as authentic with ourselves as anything. … We just want them to be as real as they can possibly be.”
While those personalities have been endearing for the most part, Saturday’s rematch (TV: ESPN, 4 p.m.) with Florida (12-10, 4-5 SEC) harkens back to the one time this season UT (21-1, 9-0) wasn’t so likeable.
After the final buzzer sounded in the Vols win over the Gators in Exactech Arena on Jan. 12, they trotted off the court, led by Schofield, gator-chomping the Florida student section.
“When someone told me that happened, that’s the first thing I addressed after the game,” said Barnes following the game in Gainesville. “I don’t like it simply because I want total focus on the main thing. I think when those things happen, it’s going to be talked about.”
UT would rather the conversation be about being one of the nation’s best teams, and it has over the past few weeks.
It will continue if the Vols are able to corral the Gators’ guard-heavy attack.
Senior KeVaughn Allen and freshman Noah Locke combined to make nine 3-pointers en route to 34 points in Gainesville, and UT needed a 9-0 run in the final 44 seconds to secure an 11-point victory.
Opposing teams during conference play have shot 35 percent from behind the arc and made 8.7 3-point shots per game.
Florida has made 197 long-range shots this season, which is the second-most in the SEC. Locke ranks fourth in the conference with a 42.1 percent 3-point percentage. Allen shoots 35 percent from distance.
“Some of it is teams making shots, but when we go back and look, we always break down why we gave up shots,” Barnes said. “There are some where we were slow with our rotations, but the fact is they make them.
“Some of that might be the fact that teams come out and know they have a chance to beat a ranked team, so you have to give them credit for that.”
The Vols will try to avoid letting that trend put an end to their program-record 17-game winning streak. The Gators are also attempting to avenge the gator-chomp taunt on their home court and secure a much-needed win for their NCAA tournament resume.
“(Florida coach Mike White) is really trying to work hard to keep you off balance,” Barnes said. “He’s continued to work with his lineup to get what he wants, and he’s done a really good job. He has one thing in mind and that’s to continue improving.
“They’re going to fight to get in the NCAA tournament, and we all know coming down the backstretch of this schedule every one of these games matters. We’ve got to be ready because I can tell you they’re going to be ready.”
Injury update: Yves Pons will miss Saturday’s game after suffering a facial fracture during Thursday’s practice. Pons underwent a corrective procedure on Friday. The team will update his status next week.