Tony Vitello watched his Tennessee celebrate the program’s first SEC Tournament championship since 1995, and emotions were evident during an ESPN2 interview Kris Budden.

“A lot, a lot,” he said when asked what this means to the program. ”’95 was Todd Helton’s team, Coach (Rod) Delmonico, we tried to revitalize this program and there’s been a lot of talk about Todd lately. We don’t have any Todd Heltons, but we’ve got a bunch of grinders. Kind of like there at the end. It was a weird start and a weird finish, but we’ve got guys that’ll compete for all 9 innings.”

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Tennessee sportsbooks are live in the Volunteer state since November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.

Vitello was then asked about Tennessee never trailed, and what he was most proud of.

“The fact that we were on Ibiza night club hours all tournament, with the rain and everything,” he said. “The guys were a little gassed in the dugout, they wouldn’t admit it, but you can see some things. And the way they showed up with consistency for preparation, start to finish to games, it’s kind of been their staple all year long. But they were really challenged with the weather and the competition and just all the crazy hours here.”

Vitello didn’t go into detail, but his voice cracked at the end of the interview when Budden asked about his emotions.

“I don’t know, a lot,” he said. “Happy for them, and I’m also happy for the guys that got us in this game last year … they set us up to do this, because I don’t know if we can do this if we weren’t in this same game last year.”