Tennessee basketball has been on a hot streak in recent weeks. They’ve won eight straight SEC games including a steamrolling of No. 4 Kentucky 76-63 on Wednesday night.

The Vols’ impressive win over the Wildcats seems to have made the college basketball world truly take notice of this Big Orange surge.

The talking heads in sports media weren’t completely ignoring UT’s quietly solid season but when you smack around a Kentucky team that many people had already crowned as a national championship contender, it tends to raise some eyebrows.

Among the analysts who have given accolades to the Vols is Rob Dauster, the founder of Field of 68. During a postgame review of Tennessee’s thrashing of the Cats, he had some very nice things to say about Rick Barnes’ squad, including that they are a legitimate contender for a spot in the Final Four.

Take a look at what he had to say…

“Yeah, I think that they can get there if they’re going to shoot the way that they shot (against Kentucky) and play offense the way that they’ve played over the course of the last month. … If you go back starting from the day after that beatdown against Kentucky (on January 15th) until today, Tennessee is a top 15 offense in college basketball. And if they’re going to do that with the way that they can lock up and guard when they want to lock up and guard, that is a team that can make it to a Final Four.”

Those are some strong words from one of the top college basketball reporters in the nation. But obviously, they are just words. The Vols now have to go out and continue to prove that they are the powerful team that we’ve seen in recent games.

They’ll have another opportunity to impress when the boys head to Fayetteville to play No. 23 Arkansas on Saturday. Bud Walton Arena is one of the toughest places to play in the SEC and pulling out a win there would be a big feather in Tennessee’s cap. And a victory would get them closer to gaining the No. 2 seed in the league and a bye in the SEC Tournament. Here’s hoping they’ll avoid a letdown and keep the momentum going.

Featured image via Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK