Rick Barnes updates Tennessee basketball injuries pre-South Carolina

Rick Barnes updates Tennessee basketball injuries pre-South Carolina

Rick Barnes thinks Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips will play for Tennessee basketball against South Carolina on Saturday.

James and Phillips have been battling injuries since mid-February. James has missed four straight games with a sprained left ankle. Phillips has missed three with a hip flexor strain.

“How much (they play), we don’t know,” Barnes said. “I think that will be a game-time decision. They both were in practice with us (Thursday). They’ll be back out there.”

No. 13 Tennessee (20-8, 9-6 SEC) hosts South Carolina (10-18, 3-12) on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

Barnes said James “put a good load” in practice Thursday. “He wanted to do it,” Barnes said. Phillips did not practice as much as James on Thursday.

“I know our team admires them for them trying to push through,” Barnes said. “They’ve got injuries. They want to help their team win. There is no doubt about that. We will see how it all goes today.”

James suffered a sprained left ankle in the final minute of Tennessee’s 66-65 loss at Vanderbilt on Feb. 8. Phillips is dealing with a hip flexor strain, which he suffered Feb. 10 in practice. He started in UT’s 86-85 loss against Missouri on Feb,. 11, but did not play in the second half due to the injury. James did not play against the Tigers.

James has missed 12 games this season due to injury. He missed eight games in the first 13 due to knee soreness stemming from an offseason knee procedure. The senior had played in 11 straight and started seven straight prior to his ankle injury. He is averaging 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Phillips has missed three straight games. He is averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.