DALLAS — Tennessee basketball held its collective breath Thursday afternoon when Kyle Alexander limped off the floor in American Airlines Center.
Alexander, the Vols’ 6-foot-11, 220-pound post, banged hips with Wright State’s converted football player, Loudon Love (6-9, 275).
Alexander lost that battle even as No. 3 seed Tennessee (26-8) was pulling away to win the game, 73-47.
The Vols play No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago, which beat No. 6 seed Miami Thursday afternoon, 64-62, on a buzzer-beating shot.
Alexander said he will be ready to play when the teams meet in the Round of 32 on Saturday (Game time TBA).
“I just had a little collision with someone in the game, and I tried to run it off a couple of plays and it was sore,” Alexander told SEC Country on Thursday. “So I came out and was gonna rehab it and get it good, I’ll be all right.”
Alexander played 17 efficient minutes in the win over the out-manned No. 14-seed Raiders.
Vols forward Admiral Schofield said Alexander’s contributions cannot be overlooked.
“Kyle is a game changer,” Schofield said. “He’s really our anchor, our X-factor. When he’s really locked in, he changes the game for us in a big way.”
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, one of four finalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, said Wednesday that Alexander finds ways to impact the game that don’t involve scoring.
Alexander continues to do so despite being nicked up, as he’s also been wearing a protective walking boot to alleviate stress on his lower leg/foot.
“It’s just a precautionary thing, that’s all it is,” Alexander said. “I don’t know if anybody in this room is 100 percent, but I’ll be all right.”
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