Rick Barnes insists Vols will be driven to win first SEC tourney title since 1979

USA Today photo by Randy Sartin / Tennessee's John Fulkerson (10) and Keon Johnson (45) defend Florida's Scottie Lewis during last Sunday's 65-54 win by the Volunteers. The Vols resume play Friday afternoon in the Southeastern Conference tournament, an event they haven't won since 1979.

Does the Tennessee men's basketball program really need a lot of 1979 reminders this week?

The beginning of the Iran hostage crisis. Pittsburgh serving as the city of champions with its Pirates and Steelers. Rocky Balboa exacting revenge on Apollo Creed in "Rocky II."

It's been 42 years since Tennessee last won the Southeastern Conference tournament, which tipped off Wednesday night in Nashville. The Volunteers have reached the championship game of the past two SEC tournaments played to completion, losing to Kentucky in 2018 and to Auburn two years ago, and they hope this can be the year that final step is taken.

There were 10 schools in the SEC when Tennessee won the 1979 extravaganza, and the nine other programs have each won at least one league tournament since.

"I think any time you can win a championship, it means a lot," Vols sixth-year coach Rick Barnes said Wednesday.