Vols’ Fulkerson has surgery; tourney status TBD

Tennessee senior forward John Fulkerson, who missed Saturday’s SEC tournament semifinal game against Alabama because of facial injuries suffered in Friday’s win over Florida, met with specialists and underwent a surgical procedure Sunday morning in Knoxville, according to school officials.

He later rejoined his teammates in Nashville on Sunday evening, officials said.

Fulkerson has not been ruled out of the NCAA tournament. The 18-8 Volunteers received a 5-seed in the Midwest Region and will play 12th-seeded Oregon State on Friday in Indianapolis.

Tennessee medical officials will evaluate Fulkerson daily, and a determination on his status for the NCAA tournament will be made sometime later in the week.

“I’ve said it before. It’s never going to be about John Fulkerson,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “He wants his teammates to win and wants to be a part of it, and nobody is pulling more for him to do that than his teammates.”

Fulkerson left Friday’s game after receiving two elbows to the head from Florida’s Omar Payne, who was ejected.

A 6-foot-9 senior who has started 55 games over the past two seasons, Fulkerson is averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds this season. He had 14 points and seven rebounds against Florida in the regular-season finale and had eight points in 19 minutes against the Gators on Friday.

Barnes opted to go with a smaller lineup against Alabama on Saturday, with sophomore guard Josiah-Jordan James stepping in for Fulkerson. James finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in the 73-68 loss.

Information from ESPN’s Jeff Borzello was used in this report.

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