A rematch in need of a match

UT, Gonzaga have fallen since Orlando

Here's to the good old days. You know, Thanksgiving in Orlando.

Gonzaga and Tennessee are singing the same tune Wednesday when they renew their rivalry in a 9 p.m. tip-off (TV: EPSN2) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

And they can compare fresh scars obtained since they last met on Nov. 30 in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic.

That 83-74 Gonzaga win spoiled Tennessee's unbeaten start. The 15th-ranked Vols (9-3) have since lost at Temple and Kansas and neither game was close.

The Bulldogs (8-4) climbed as high as No. 4 after leaving Orlando, but have lost three of their past four games and plummeted out of the rankings.

So, Tennessee and Gonzaga meet again five weeks later, worse for the wear.

"We're a little bit (better),'' said UT coach Bruce Pearl. "We should be a lot better and we're not a lot better.''

Gonzaga's Mark Few isn't even that cheery.

"We're knocked back a little bit mentally, our confidence,'' Few said.

"You can't pick an aspect of where we're at that doesn't need improvement.''

When last they met, both were on top of their early season game.

The Vols had just dispatched Siena and Georgetown to get to the Old Spice finals. Gonzaga beat Oklahoma State and Maryland, then took UT out in the title game.

"I thought we had a good mentality with how we attacked their pressure,'' said Few. "For the most part, we defended the right way.

"That's slipped, quite frankly, in the last couple of games.''

Tennessee's defense has definitely regressed.

The Vols have struggled against a series of quality point guards and that includes Gonzaga senior Jeremy Pargo.

"If I were to hear criticism about our basketball team,'' said Pearl, "most of it is true and accurate.

"But we've talked about defensive struggles from the very beginning. While I'm very disappointed, I'm not surprised.''

The players have been hearing the criticism, too.

"We're tired of hearing the stereotypes about us,'' said freshman Cameron Tatum. "We've got to go out there and prove them wrong.

"We've got to play Tennessee basketball, and that's toughness and playing hard all the time.''

Added junior Tyler Smith, "It's not like we don't want to get better or we're not trying.''

The Vols gave Gonzaga a dose of toughness and hard-playing last season in Seattle, winning 82-72.

In Orlando, however, the Bulldogs exacted their revenge, leading by as many as 17 points in the second half.

Tonight, the rubber game of the series finally lands on a home court.

The Vols have a 37-game TBA winning streak on the line.

"We're going to face a different entity than Seattle and Orlando,'' said Few. "They're probably going to play at another level in all aspects of their game.''

One aspect would be defending. Another Pearl would like to see upgraded is getting off to slow starts. The latest episode was falling behind 25-9 at Kansas.

Expect Pearl to make sure that Smith and Wayne Chism get plenty of offensive looks early.

"It's just something us veterans have got to do,'' said Smith. "When we're being leaders we've got to want the ball, not just sit back and let it come to us.''

Notebook: The officials will be from the West Coast. SEC officials worked last year's game in Seattle. ... Senior forward Ryan Childress is getting closer to playing shape, judging from practice this week. ... Brad Nessler and Jay Bilas have the ESPN2 telecast. ... Two of Gonzaga's losses were last-second affairs, in overtime to No. 2 Connecticut and 66-65 at Utah. ... The Vols will beware 6-5 sophomore reserve Steven Gray. He burned them for 19 points in Orlando. ... Both Pearl and Few claim to play the strongest non-conference schedule in the nation. According to collegerpi.com, that distinction goes to Temple. Gonzaga's schedule is ranked No. 8 and Tennessee's No. 24.

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Comments » 42

markr22vols writes:

If we can find some defense and win this will be a big boost before conference play begins Sat at Georgia.

volwalk writes:

I would love to see old school tennessee show up tomorrow night. Which includes 94 feet of in your face defense, diving for loose balls and popp'n the open 3s.

teedub writes:

I wish i could make it up tomorrow night, but definitely looking forward to the Athens trip Saturday.

Go Vols!

dwa7#337691 writes:

prediction.....

UT 84
Zags 76

should be about right............

guelah75 writes:

in response to volwalk:

I would love to see old school tennessee show up tomorrow night. Which includes 94 feet of in your face defense, diving for loose balls and popp'n the open 3s.

raining 3's?....not likely, this isn't last years team, no real leader, no 'true' outside threat....and no perimeter defense

Hoping for a win, but i'd be happy with the VOLS just playing solid defense for one complete game

doctorvol#211700 writes:

chicken samich and a win, thank you!

GoodKnightInTheBurg writes:

Mike, I think you meant ESPN...Not EPSN. Must be a new network.

volwalk writes:

On a different note, Memphis's Calapari told ESPN and Katz that "they are rolling and are definately a top 20 team and you don't want to play us"! No doubt Memphis is playing better and starting to gel but come on Cal, keep your mouth shut! It would definately be nice to get on a roll before "the mouth of the south" comes rolling into to k-town.

utucla writes:

yeah, but who have they played to get on that roll?.....Carolina?...Duke?.....UConn?....no, more like Lamar....Northeastern...and some directional school....

jesseejames57 writes:

We're home for this game. I feel sorry for Gonzaga cause these guy's will be like a Roaring Lion after a piece of meat. It don't matter if it's steak or rabbit you watch these guy's come together tomorrow night. I have watched these fellows play and have watched these Tennessee Vols play for 45 years. I can tell and feel when an explosion is fixing to occur, and I feel a big one coming on. Tennessee 93 Gonzaga 72

hippie60 writes:

Try to play some defense that's when you keep the other team from shooting 25 lay-ups a game,Hopefully Coach Summitt helped them this week.

xvolx writes:

so far, they just look like average players. no consistancy to their games.

82cat writes:

quck reality check:

This is not a good tennessee basketball team.

Lots of reasons have been stated but when you put them all together it amounts to a 20 to 25 rated team and thats where they will stay most of the season.

As much as I hate to say it

no sweet 16 this yr
memphis will have a lay up contest against our defense
we will not win the SEC this year

what I see

1- no outside threat on offense

2- do not switch well on man to man and that is what we did best recently if you were agressive on D and got beat somebody would switch off and stop your man. now -- nothing but open dunks and lay ups.

3- leadership tyler smith is the leader but there is a component missing here somewhere

4- chism and jp prince (I know hes been injured) are not coming to play every night and certainly disappear for long stretches.

4- hopson is tentative and rarely trys to get to the rim

the good news - we have more talent on the floor than i can remeber in a while and most of it is young talent with more talent in the pipeline so the future is bright --------------------just not this year

VOLinATL writes:

in response to volwalk:

I would love to see old school tennessee show up tomorrow night. Which includes 94 feet of in your face defense, diving for loose balls and popp'n the open 3s.

Old school? As in, what 1-2 years ago?

jkendall#231407 writes:

gatorzz - ask the Boston Celtics about those "dorky looking halos" they wear.

The Vols will be fine - at least they play several top 25 teams compared to some other teams. Ask Texas about getting beat by Arkansas last night..

dlobh writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If I remember correctly, the lizards have lost 5 of 6, including both games last year, to guys who look like dorks.

THE_VOL writes:

It's real simple - VOLS WILL WIN THIS ONE! All the need to do this, need to do that is irrelevant. This is a gut-check game and there is no way in hell, the Zags will out-gut us in TBA!!!

Now EVERYBODY go buy an OUTLIVE t-shirt!!!

b_neas writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is not a fair assessment. College teams are a totally different team when on their home courts. UT being young and still mentally shaky is solid at TBA. Same with KU they are better than Gonzaga at allen fieldhouse, as shown by their 32 game winning streak. I see UT winning hopefully by at least 8-12 pts, feeding off the crowd.

THE_VOL writes:

in response to 82cat:

quck reality check:

This is not a good tennessee basketball team.

Lots of reasons have been stated but when you put them all together it amounts to a 20 to 25 rated team and thats where they will stay most of the season.

As much as I hate to say it

no sweet 16 this yr
memphis will have a lay up contest against our defense
we will not win the SEC this year

what I see

1- no outside threat on offense

2- do not switch well on man to man and that is what we did best recently if you were agressive on D and got beat somebody would switch off and stop your man. now -- nothing but open dunks and lay ups.

3- leadership tyler smith is the leader but there is a component missing here somewhere

4- chism and jp prince (I know hes been injured) are not coming to play every night and certainly disappear for long stretches.

4- hopson is tentative and rarely trys to get to the rim

the good news - we have more talent on the floor than i can remeber in a while and most of it is young talent with more talent in the pipeline so the future is bright --------------------just not this year

You listen to too many talking heads. I presume that you would say the TN team of 2 years ago which ended up 1 score away from the Elite 8 was a good team. News flash - THAT team was 10-2 after 12 games and ended up with ELEVEN LOSSES!!! I wish some of you amateur analysts would actually understand the game before making foolish predictions.

overatedvols writes:

Trash talk coming from the Gonzaga camp this morning.
Starting Center says: Vols dols who cares.
Starting point guard added: We already beat this bunch once why play em again. We already know what the outcome will be.
Reserve 2nd string forward: I saw em playing kansas the other day..ha ha.

Coach Mark Few: Guys here's your chance to get back on track. We've lost 3 straight and 4 out of 5. We've finally got an easy one. Nevermind what I may say in public about them being an outstanding team. I have to say that junk. You know they stink as much as I know it.Also when they play on national tv they always get embarrassed so we've got that going for us too.

I think they should ban reporters from ever going into locker rooms. These reporters will repeat anything. It's just not good.

Vol_Stuck_in_Florida writes:

The game will be definitely be exciting. However, even though I bleed Orange if they(Chism and Smith) don't take over as leaders you can chalk it up to experience.

overatedvols writes:

Memphis vs. Marshall tonight 8pm FedEx Forum. Not for the faint hearted. Should be a grueling match that i'm expecting the Tigers to pull off.

Calapari did not say 'We're rolling now and you don't want to play us'. He said he felt we were a top 25 team and that our only loses were close games and that if we could ever get the offense clicking you won't want to play us. Funny how things get distorted over here.

Fellas, if Gonz. starts to run away with it tonight. Just switch over to the Tigers game. I'm pulling for you. I want your home winning streak to stay intact.

overatedvols writes:

Usually on channelsurfing brownie so that all the many Tiger fans around the world can watch. Don't know what happened to this one. Oh well, it's on local tv.
Vols streak is history soon brownie, tonight or in 2.5 weeks unless the tigers regress. They've been coming on pretty good lately. If they keep moving in the right direction they'll win that game. Three weeks ago I probably wouldn't have thought that.
Anyway, I wish you guys luck tonight and I certainly don't want the vols to get embarrassed again on national tv, especially at home. I'm sure I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight if that happened.

overatedvols writes:

Don't know about Maze schooling Evans at pg brownie. I haven't seen him school anybody yet. I'd probably go with last years top high school player in that nation to win that battle. He's still learning, new position, so we'll see but so far so good. The team chemistry is much better lately and it's allowed Anderson and Dozier to go back to what they used to do. Anderson had been in a major slump and he appears to have come out of it. They are finally playing like a team but they've not had many tough/hostile crowd road games. Still, i'll take my Tigers.
The games that aren't televised nationally are on the CSS network. It's channel 6 on the Memphis comcast cable. I'm not sure why such a marquee matchup was not televised nationally. It's time to begin our brutal conference play.
By the way, Ark. is surprising. Vols may have some competetion.

82cat writes:

in response to THE_VOL:

You listen to too many talking heads. I presume that you would say the TN team of 2 years ago which ended up 1 score away from the Elite 8 was a good team. News flash - THAT team was 10-2 after 12 games and ended up with ELEVEN LOSSES!!! I wish some of you amateur analysts would actually understand the game before making foolish predictions.

if you think this team is anywhere close to as good as that "team" was you must have your head in the sand.

That team was a rag tag trhown together bunch that played with an energy level rarely seen

This team is by far more talented athletically but as an over all team not nearly as good

I have been a tennessee fan 45 plus years and love UT.

Just trying to put some realism in the conversation and while we are not a bad team I just dont see it for this year -- something is missing on this team and I have given my 'opinion' as to what i believe the problems are.

As for understanding the game which college or nba team do you coach??

Mr know it all

calvolfromkingsport writes:

At this point in time , there is no doubt that Arkansas is best in the SEC.

ncvol writes:

in response to volwalk:

I would love to see old school tennessee show up tomorrow night. Which includes 94 feet of in your face defense, diving for loose balls and popp'n the open 3s.

Now that is what I am talking about !!!Go Vols!

ncvol writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That ,my friend, sounds like a fair weather fan...or not a fan at all.
Go Vols!

ncvol writes:

I remember hiresanders....Someone did tell me that you were a Kentucky fan....makes sense about what you posted...
Go Vols!

volwalk writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what is your record vs. "those dorky headbands"? Let me answer it for you----gays are 1 and 5 vs. CBP era.

Now who is the dork?

volwalk writes:

over,
Katz made your boy Cal sound like a jack azz last night--by his quotes that they should be a top 20 team and nobody would want to play them...thats what I heard him say last night after the AR TX game. What you said isn't nearly as bad but still alot of arrogance behind it. Regardless, I wish you guys luck tonight---hopefully both our teams will be rolling the next few weeks...to set up our annual meeting. It is a rivalry that is gaining alot of steam and would like to see both teams ranked in the mid-teens.

trollhunter writes:

in response to overatedvols:

Don't know about Maze schooling Evans at pg brownie. I haven't seen him school anybody yet. I'd probably go with last years top high school player in that nation to win that battle. He's still learning, new position, so we'll see but so far so good. The team chemistry is much better lately and it's allowed Anderson and Dozier to go back to what they used to do. Anderson had been in a major slump and he appears to have come out of it. They are finally playing like a team but they've not had many tough/hostile crowd road games. Still, i'll take my Tigers.
The games that aren't televised nationally are on the CSS network. It's channel 6 on the Memphis comcast cable. I'm not sure why such a marquee matchup was not televised nationally. It's time to begin our brutal conference play.
By the way, Ark. is surprising. Vols may have some competetion.

YOU HAVE BEEN A VERY,VERY BAD TROLL...................TIME TO LOAD UP MY SHOTGUN!!!!!

trollhunter writes:

THE JUDGE WILL BE EXTRA BUSY WITH HIS CIVIL WARRANTS THIS MONTH!!!!

SmokeyWazHere writes:

Who cares, when does SEC play start?

ps11824 writes:

I say we win. Check back and read me saying "told you so."

overatedvols writes:

Volwalk should be a good game on the 24th.

Trollhunter, glad to see you made it back from Christmas break. I hope you had a good Christmas. The holidays are over though. Back to the institution.

fundamentals83 writes:

in response to THE_VOL:

You listen to too many talking heads. I presume that you would say the TN team of 2 years ago which ended up 1 score away from the Elite 8 was a good team. News flash - THAT team was 10-2 after 12 games and ended up with ELEVEN LOSSES!!! I wish some of you amateur analysts would actually understand the game before making foolish predictions.

Which of the predictions were foolish? No sweet 16? Sounds logical to me at this point.

bfrank78 writes:

Maze schoolong Reke???? LMAO... Not likely. Reke will school maze just like S. Collins did!!!

MikeHamiltonFan writes:

in response to 82cat:

quck reality check:

This is not a good tennessee basketball team.

Lots of reasons have been stated but when you put them all together it amounts to a 20 to 25 rated team and thats where they will stay most of the season.

As much as I hate to say it

no sweet 16 this yr
memphis will have a lay up contest against our defense
we will not win the SEC this year

what I see

1- no outside threat on offense

2- do not switch well on man to man and that is what we did best recently if you were agressive on D and got beat somebody would switch off and stop your man. now -- nothing but open dunks and lay ups.

3- leadership tyler smith is the leader but there is a component missing here somewhere

4- chism and jp prince (I know hes been injured) are not coming to play every night and certainly disappear for long stretches.

4- hopson is tentative and rarely trys to get to the rim

the good news - we have more talent on the floor than i can remeber in a while and most of it is young talent with more talent in the pipeline so the future is bright --------------------just not this year

I think you guys are kind of shocking.

TN just lost to KANSAS in PHOGG by 6 in a game where we played HORRIBLY and shot like phooey from outside and people are acting like it was a shock.

Kansas did win the national championship last year with different players but UCLA, UNC, KANSAS, DUKE (who I despise but who belong) and UK are teams that all traditionally have to be considered top of the top basketball programs. For TN to be elevated into their company where losing on the road to them is a shock shows just how good we are.

Scotty Hopson was the worst player in that game. He dribbled the ball off his foot, threw it away again and again etc. He also got his nerves calmed down and started canning threes at the end. If TN can get upset at our lack of defense, if Bruce can make the guys feel embarassed when white non dunkers look like Vince Carter against them, we can go to the Elite 8 this year.

Beating Georgetown at a time when we had yet to gel as a team just hints at how very good we can be. Tonight we play defense and humiliate Gonzaga and everyone starts to see what kind of TN team this can be. Aaron Green had hustle, and Jajuan Smith was a leader, but if their type of intensity and desire burns its way into the hearts of the guys like Hopson and Tatum, we will force 30 turnovers in a game and absolutely abuse other teams.

Bruce Pearl needs some time to teach guys not the motion offense, but the out of bound sets, how to be positioned perfectly on the zone he installed etc and how to press effectively without giving up baseball throw layups. When we get it together, and it will be this season, we will outclass everyone in our league easily except Florida, UK, Arkansas, SC and Alabama. We can beat every team in the SEC, but the 5 mentioned look pretty good so far.

Guys please tell me that as a young guy I am not the only basketball fan here who remembers Steve Hamer! Watching Allan Houston score 40 and still lose because our team had nothing. Watching Jerry Green and his bunch who were incredibly talented but who listened to him about as much as Bart Simpson listens to his dad...the dark years where a Belmont recruit seemed good enough for us, and where Buzz was the favorite coach of the rest of the SEC...

Bruce Pearl is a stud. He is upping the talent level and he is doing it with guys who are white, guys who are black and guys who are in between. He does not care about head bands and tats because he is not creating a Fortune 100 marketing group, he is creating a perennial top 25 basketball team. They have not been arrested, they are not "thugs" and they have shown restraint in games where they have been hammered and battered physically. Some of your remember guys like Hathaway and I guarantee you that the Kansas game would have resulted in bloody faces for those Morris brothers if Green's guys were there...TN is winning, and winning the right way.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ncvol:

That ,my friend, sounds like a fair weather fan...or not a fan at all.
Go Vols!

Not a fan at all. Judging from most of his posts, he is an interloping UK troll. He is a troll on here, whatever team he roots for, not to gratuitously slander UK fans.

peerless1 writes:

Consistency and desire(in the big games)-are the two things this year's team lacks-they're athletic as hades but each player's gotta bring it every game. Play smart-phooey i dont wanna see any more lame attempts at an alley oop that bounces off the backboard or front rim, etc. I think we need Daniel West bad, we need a true point guard to run things-we're like a body with flailing limbs and no head. Thank gosh we have a great coach though. Hopson is a beautiful 3pt shooter-we need to run offense and screen to get him open. Opposing teams need to fear our outside shot again.

Ringside writes:

Time to watch the Knoxville Globetrotters.

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