Vols claim heat's on Memphis

Pressure on unbeaten, top-ranked Tigers

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Pressure? What Pressure?

The No. 2-ranked Tennessee men's basketball team isn't showing any sign of concern heading into Saturday's 9 p.m. game at No. 1 Memphis (26-0) after topping Auburn 89-70 Wednesday night.

The Vols (24-2) likely will take over the top spot in the nation if they can end the Tigers' homecourt win streak, which at 47 stands as the longest in the nation.

"Is there any pressure on us?'' UT sophomore forward Tyler Smith asked rhetorically. "I don't think so. I think the pressure would be on them.

"They're undefeated, and they are trying to keep that zero on the right side of the won-loss column.''

J.P. Prince agreed.

"I don't think the pressure is on us,'' said Prince, who attended Memphis White Station High School before going to Arizona and transferring to Tennessee. "The pressure would have to be on them. Number one is supposed to beat number two.''

Las Vegas oddsmakers agree; The Tigers have opened as six-point favorites.

"As far as pressure on me, I don't even think about that,'' Prince said. "I've played in front of those people thousands of times, and they've seen me grow up my whole life through high school.''

Vols coach Bruce Pearl said that despite the hoopla surrounding the ESPN-televised event, he's approaching the game as he would any other.

"There's more hype, there's more media, the kids know the game will be watched by more people, but that doesn't make this game more important,'' Pearl said. "If this game was to go to the Final Four, like last year, if we'd have beaten Ohio State in the Sweet 16, we'd have seen Memphis (in the Elite Eight).

"You talk about pressure - the winner goes, loser doesn't? That's pressure. But both teams will move on from this game, win or lose, and have bigger and bigger things to accomplish.''

UT All-American Chris Lofton said he sees a challenge for the Vols.

"I don't think there's any pressure to it,'' Lofton said. "They're number one, we're number two. It's going to be a test for both of us to see where we stand.

"Being on the road, we're not expected to do great. Anytime you're at home you're expected to win, especially when you're number one in the nation.''

Senior JaJuan Smith said the Vols are just enjoying their status near the top of the rankings.

"Just to see we're in the same category with North Carolina, and get up here and know how they do things on a day-to-day basis,'' JaJuan Smith said. "We're still climbing the ladder, though. We can't say we've jumped into the same category because they have national championships, and we don't, yet.''

UT point guard Ramar Smith said the Vols' opportunity speaks for itself.

"I think it's just fun playing against Memphis, the No. 1 team,'' Smith said. "It's a big game, what more can I say? I'm tired of talking about Memphis. I'm ready to play.''

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Comments » 32

ballewville6 writes:

i think tennessee can beat memphis as long as we play a good game we need the 3 smiths and loften,and chism and crews to play well and the bench needs to play fair enough but we have a very good chanch of beating them even at memphis cause i think we match up good against them dorsey and dozier are a little stronger but our inside game is 5 times better than they were a month ago,as far as recruiting i always read hopson loved tennessees style of play and he dont have kentucky listed as a favorite plus all the other teams he listed has a sophmore at cincy ave 17ppg and miss state has the freashman who scored 23 on us and they bothalong with louisville have sg they have signed oe offered besides scotty hopson,but i heard we were out of race for hopson a talk radio show was saying he was going to kentucky and the ut and memphis recruiting war for leslie mcdonald was lost by both several sources said he was going to duke ,im sick of top tennessee players going to the acc,i hope that everthing i heard is bull ,but in case it isnt 4 star leon freemon has tennessee,cincinnati,depaul and illinoise as the only teams he is interested in but michigan state,and purdue have both offerd him a scolership i think we should offer him and get him and redshirt him if we have to incase we dont get hopson or mcdonald,but we should still go after hopson and mcdonald very hard.GO VOLS beat memphisi have been saying since november that we were better and we would beat memphis i put 1000 dollars on tennessee and i am not a betting man so come on and win VOLS

wonderosa writes:

^ longest sentence ever.

Oenoboy writes:

Amazing. We are two days away from the biggest game in the history of our basketball program and all the posters (including me briefly) are spending all their time and energy debating Phil Fulmer's future. It's embarrassing.

WE NEED TO WAKE UP! Phil isn't going anywhere but our basketball team is! Number One vs Number Two!

GO VOLS!!!!

milldw02#366865 writes:

THE KEY
IS
FOULS.

IF WE CAN GET SOME OF THOSE MEMPHIS GUYS INTO FOUR FOULS WITH 5 MINS LEFT, WATCH OUT TIGERS. WE HAVE THE DEPTH TO DO IT.

AND THE PLAYER TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE? RAMAR SMITH, WITH PENETRATION-DISH-OUT ASSISTS. GOVOLS!!

FatherVol writes:

Balle, you bet $1000 on Tennessee? I hope you took the points because betting that kind of money on a "bragging rights" game only indicates to me that your common sense is about as grounded as your English grammar and composition skills.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

I wish I had a $1000.00.

Beat U of M.

anthony writes:

let's all take up a collection for the huckster!

oldorange writes:

GO VOLS..........

CoverOrange writes:

It was monopoly money.

dirtdobber1 writes:

wonderosa- good one on the long sentence.

FLAVOLS writes:

Wonderosa must have been breathing heavy after that one.
GO VOLS BEAT MEMPHIS!

FLAVOLS writes:

Is Pearl wearing the orange blazer saturday?

brokebackvol writes:

I'm thankful that Memphis is as bad at the free-throw line as the Vols - can be a great equalizer. GO BIG ORANGE - BEAT MEMPHIS STATE!

HotlantaVol writes:

The blazer's only supposed to be for traditional rivals like Kentucky and Vandy, but I wouldn't mind seeing an exception made tomorrow night. Then again, I don't want to see it tarnished and stained by soda and popcorn grease when the Tiger fans prove they are just as classless as the UAB fans after a big loss. Go Vols!! Don't slap back!!

waterskier3#226480 writes:

I agree with Oenoboy... forget the pretenders(our football team) and lets talk about the contenders... we have a chance to have huge national exposure.... something we haven't enjoyed in a long time.... if the vols win then the sec tourney, then march madness it could be a full month of nothing but the vols.... mens and lady!!!!! that we should all sit back and enjoy!!!!!!

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Oh c'mon, wonderosa. At least ballewville6 used one period in the 15th line. He/she could still be going...:-)

1974Vol writes:

This will be a fun game to watch as both teams love to run and gun. The tigers have the better five, but the Vols have the better 10. Run 'em down Orange! I want them tigers bent over gripping their shorts every TO! The Vols win if they can hang in until late then sprint to the finish like the Florida game. "Chris Lofton hit a 3 at the buzzer to lift No. 2 Tennessee over the No. 1 Memphis Tigers, 101-99 win in the Fed Ex Center! Highlights coming up on Sports Center" -Da Da Dant, Da Da Dant!

volfan60 writes:

I think Coach Pearl said he would not be wearing the orange blazer tomorrow night.

RockyTop1_old writes:

Maybe he could burn a Memphis Blazer at halftime.

Who 3 years ago would have dreamed this? Don't wake me up I am enjoying it TOO much. BEAT BLUE, BEAT BLUE, BEAT BLUE.......
GO VOLS!! BEAT Memphis!!!!!!!!!!!!

dlobh writes:

We need to keep things in perspective. The important game is next week at Vandy. This game Saturday is just for braggin' rights with no conference implications, though we all want to win.

volboy81#211803 writes:

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!!
BEAT MEMPHIS!

FrostyVol writes:

Dont kid yourselves people, this isnt just about "bragging rights". This game has implications for the future of the program as well. To beat Memphis, in Memphis, as the no.1 team, and to achieve a no.1 ranking ourselves, have significance in terms of not just establishing history, but in gaining an advantage in recruiting as well. A win will also prove an invaluable step in the climb towards putting UT in the national conscious as a legitimate basketball program. This is our time. Let's go win it Vols.

iowavol writes:

Big game, big time. Look forward to Par-tee time. Go Vols - beat MemPis. Loved the sign in Birmingham, loved the picture on ESPN. Too bad for the Tigers.

For those who insist on bringing Football negativity into the biggest-Tennessee-basketball-game-ever discussion, love Fulmer too. Go Coach, kick Adams a$$.

volunteers4life writes:

1974Vol Sorry but Memphis is just as athletic as UT so dont count on that happening. If the Vols win, it will be because of the 3 ball. They have to be on with the 3's b/c Memphis has sucked beyond the line lately. I think stamina wise, both teams will be winded b/c the up and down play will be constant in this game as that is how both teams play. Memphis regularly plays close until the 2nd half when the opponents get winded and start getting lazy. Shouldn't be the case this time though.

The good news is regardless who wins, as long as 1 of them make it to the National Championship this year and hopefully both will make it deep in the tourney, Tennessee will be the hottest state in the country for recruiting nationally not just inside the state!

BTW-- Check out the 2009 list of 5 and 4 star recruits and count how many have Memphis and/or Tennessee in their top 5. Its already making an impact!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

JMHO;
if the vols win, it will be because they take care of the ball and score inside. Memphis will lock down Lofton and dare JaJuan and others to score. This is an effective strategy.

UT can certainly win, but I expect a grinding, foul-plaqued game.

I think Tyler, Wayne, and Ramar need GREAT games, and everyone lese need GOOD games.

BTW, Memphis is facing the same row to hoe, except the Vols don't really try to lock down one player very often.

bleed_orange writes:

I think he said that the Orange Blazer was reserved for KY and Vandy in honor of Ray Mears. However, I think Mr. Mears would approve with the circumstances being #1 vs #2 and being an instate rivary on top of that. Although, that would mean wearing it in back-to-back games (quick dry cleaning). Saturday's game is important for NCAA Seeding and in-state recuiting, but it's not important for a SEC Regular Season Championship. Bruce has to pick his posion. Even though I would like to see the Vols win out the REG. season; it's not likely (at Memphis,at Vandy,KY,at FL, then SC. Tell me would has a tougher 5 games to end the season? Does NC, DUKE, UCLA,KANSAS,GEORGETOWN,OR MEMPHIS has a tougher 5 games? I don't think so. GO VOLS!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I only hope we can get a few 'Jamar' Smith's during the game.

That is one of the favorite annoncer hoofs of the season, along with the famous 'pick and sprint'.

1974Vol writes:

Bleed - Since the Memphis games doesn't count in SEC standings I think the Vols hold on to win SEC regular season and win the tourney. Vandy in Nashville will be tough as will Gators in Gainesville, but we will win one of those. Vols will annihilate Wildcats in Knoxville 20+ Tennessee win, and then beat SC to end up 27-4 (assuming they lose to Memphis) and 16-2 in SEC, which will win the conference. My bet is Vandy is the trap game because they go into Nashville next Tuesday emotionally spent win or lose tomorrow night.

bleed_orange writes:

1974Vol- I agree. I think Vandy is playing us at a great time. Playing on a Tuesday instead of Wednesday and after playing the #1 team in the NCAA (for now). I believe we lose to Vandy, beat KY, go to FL (a very young team)and win, then come home and win on senior night playing SC. SEC tournament #1E seed plying the winner of #4W/#5E (SC or GA/AUB or Ole Miss). I hope it is SC vs Aub. When TN wins SEC REG Season and gets to at least SEC Tourney Finals gets #2 or #1 Seed in NCAA. Probally #1 if we also beat Memphis. GO VOLS! DO US PROUD-WE'RE BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY! I STILL SAY ORANGE IS A BETTER COLOR THAN BLUE ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! IT'S GREAT TO BE A TN VOL!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

guys, I've thought that too about Vandy, especially if the Vols beat Mempthis.

All Bruce can do is give them Sunday off and prep 'em on Monday.

The vandy game is similar to the UK game earlier: the vandy fans will be pumped, the vandy team will be juiced, and the vols will be tired after several hard games.

Odd prediction: if Memphis blows us out, we will blow out Vandy.

Kwitcherbellyachin writes:

An aside: Since Ted Valentine is calling the Winthrop/Davidson game tonight, hopefully, we'll avoid him in the game tomorrow.

ThaiVolFan writes:

Come on you guys,

Ballewville6 has $1,000 riding on this game. You can tell he is just a little uptight about potentially losing a grand. If any of us were dumb enough to wager that kind of money on this game we might hold the record for the world's longest run-on sentence as well.

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