LOS ANGELES - Tennessee's men's basketball team left Southern California's Galen Center on Saturday afternoon in a collective state of shock.
"It was our first road test, and we failed,'' UT coach Bruce Pearl said after the Vols' stunning 77-55 nationally televised loss to the Trojans. "I hope it wakes us up to the point we get to practicing better and playing better.''
The Vols (8-2) are sure to fall from their No. 9 ranking before playing North Carolina A&T at 7 on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
But it's a safe bet plenty of practice shots will be hoisted as UT looks to regain its touch after two of the worst shooting performances of Pearl's five-year era.
Tennessee made only four of 20 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc Tuesday against Wyoming and struggled through a 2-for-22 shooting performance beyond the 3-point arc in the loss to Southern Cal.
"We have to shoot with more confidence,'' UT sophomore Scotty Hopson said. "The more shots we get before practice and after practice, the more confidence we'll have.
"It has been tough for some to get the extra shots these last couple weeks with finals.''
Senior Wayne Chism was disappointed with the loss, but he said the Vols must get over it.
"We're still together as a team, and everyone is taking it upon themselves,'' Chism said. "We're a more mature team than last year; nobody is pointing any fingers.''
Chism said college basketball lends itself to getting over losses much easier than football.
"It is easier to move on in basketball, because we've got another game in a few days,'' Chism said. "In football, a loss lasts all week.
"And we do have a tournament at the end of the year.''
Southern Cal coach Kevin O'Neill was asked if the win was any sweeter for him because he coached the Vols 1994-97.
"Not one bit; I loved my time at Tennessee,'' O'Neill said. "I acted like an immature baby and left after three great recruiting classes. I had a disagreement with the athletic director (then Doug Dickey.).
"I've admired from afar what Bruce Pearl has done there. To me, that was seven jobs ago: I've held five pro (NBA) jobs and another college job since then.''
O'Neill said he still considers the Vols one of the elite teams in the nation.
"You can't judge us by one game tonight, and I don't think you can judge Tennessee by one game,'' said O'Neill, whose Trojans improved to 5-4. "They flew to the West Coast, had a three-hour time difference. We played Texas at their place, without Mike Gerrity and got into early foul trouble.''
Gerrity, who had been out awaiting an academic waiver after transferring from Charlotte, made his debut at point guard Saturday, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists.
Without him, the Trojans lost to the No. 2-ranked Longhorns 69-50 after trailing 48-44 with 8:45 left.
"Tennessee is certainly in the same league as Texas,'' O'Neill said. "What they do well, they do very well, and Bruce has a proven formula for winning. They'll be a top-10 or top-12 team most of this season.''
Pearl's recipe for future success is to put the loss behind the team and get back to work.
"You've got to shoot from three against a team that packs it in like that,'' Pearl said. "We got good looks, but we just struggled.
"We've got to regroup and put this behind us quickly.''