Tuesday night, Murray State will travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee for the first time since 2006. This will be a match-up of teams that look much different than they did a year ago.
Murray State is, of course, without Ja Morant and Shaq Buchanan. The Vols are needing to replace SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and forward Admiral Schofield. That duo helped led Tennessee to the Sweet 16 last year. While both teams lost stars, they still have plenty of dudes that can play.
It is easy to overreact to the result of any one game in a season, especially the first game. The Racers turned it over too much and didn't shoot that well against Southern. They still won 20, which has Matt McMahon feeling optimistic moving forward.
"You all have known me for a long time," McMahon said after Saturday's win. "I'm never going to make a single excuse about anything. But here's the reality of our situation: Eight of our 14 guys didn't play last year; three of our top-six right have missed between six-and-nine months due to injury in the last calendar year; and our junior point guard is averaging 19 points and six assists a game in the National Basketball Association. We're going to be a working process on that offensive end of the floor; we're going to be a working process in defining the roles of our team. But that's why I'm thrilled sitting here 1-0 because our guys played their tails off tonight. The things we made mistakes on are fixable. If we continue to work hard, we'll continue to get better each and every day."
Murray State and Tennessee will tip off at 8:00pm Tuesday night in Knoxville.