Pearl plays 'must-win' card

LSU has history of making life miserable for Vols

Most coaches are reluctant to throw out the "must-win'' term, and some avoid it completely.

But Tennessee men 's basketball coach Bruce Pearl's style has been to tell it like it is, even when it means adding pressure to himself and his players.

"These are must-win games at home,'' Pearl said, referring to tonight's 8 o'clock tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena against LSU (TV: WVLT) and Saturday night's battle with Florida.

"You don't have to be either a mathematician or brain surgeon to figure out how important this week is.''

Nor do UT fans need to be historians to remember how difficult a time the Vols (12-6, 3-1 SEC) have had with LSU (15-4, 3-1) in Pearl's 3 1/2-year tenure.

The Tigers are 2-2 against Pearl's Tennessee teams, and this year's purple-and-gold edition is just as long and athletic as the past three that have held the Vols to an average of 64 points a game.

"This will be a tremendous clash of two teams that are competing for the (SEC) championship,'' Pearl said. "They make points in the paint more challenging because of their length and size, so we have to figure out a way to get more points on the perimeter.''

The Vols will have to defend on the perimeter, too, as the Tigers boast one of the most dangerous scorers in the league in shooting guard Marcus Thornton (18.9 points per game).

"He's somebody you need to cover and identify, like (Kentucky's) Jodie Meeks,'' Pearl said. "The difference that jumps out at me is LSU has more weapons (than Kentucky).

"LSU will do more for Tasmin Mitchell, and (6-foot-11 Chris) Johnson is a factor. There's more balance in LSU's attack, and yet, Thornton is capable of going off.''

Neither the Vols nor the Tigers went off last year in Baton Rouge, as UT escaped with a harrowing 47-45 victory.

"I remember it was ugly,'' said Vols' junior wing J.P. Prince, who was 1-of-7 shooting against LSU and 1-of-5 from the free-throw line. "There were a lot of bricks getting thrown up.''

LSU's Garrett Temple, arguably the best perimeter defender in the SEC, had much to do with that and will be patrolling the 3-point arc again tonight.

With Tigers sophomore point guard Bo Spencer emerging, and Mitchell returning after missing last year with a knee injury, LSU is as dangerous as ever.

"LSU is talented and one of the oldest teams in the league with a couple guys that played in the Final Four with Mitchell and Temple,'' Pearl said. "They are a continuity team, and what they do, they do really well.

"They don't run a ton of play calls; they read what you do (defensively) and take options accordingly.''

Tyler Smith said the Vols will be pushing as hard as possible to get back on the winning track at home.

"You just look at LSU's record, and it's great,'' said Smith, who has dueled Mitchell back to their early AAU days. "It's going to come down to us coming in here and playing Tennessee basketball.''

White Out For Gators: Pearl is spending his own money to take a stand against cancer, buying 3,000 "OUTLIVE" T-shirts for students attending Saturday's 9 p.m. game against Florida. The white-out campaign takes place on a day when ESPN GameDay will make its debut at a UT basketball game.

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 142

smashmouth98 writes:

let's go vols!!!!!!!!

bcbobcat82 writes:

We R gonna beat this set of tigers!!!!!!!!! I feel it in my bones!!!!!!!! Lets all show up for the ESPN GAMEDAY Saturday and represent the Orange Nation!!! BEAT the Tigers THEN beat those DARN Gators!!!!!!!!!!

yeavols#228407 writes:

Doesn't sound like a bad card to play...Let's see the hand.

UTVOL1999 writes:

Are they not all must win's?

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Methinks the Pearl is like the Summit.

Gonna have to coach up some intense two-way guard play with a keen eye for "Bottom".

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

actually, UT is for University of Tennessee.

University of Tennessee founded in 1794

University of Texas founded in 1883

dang, almost a hundred years...and if not for tennessee volunteers, they'd be flying the mexican flag and having siesta north of the rio grande.

orange_glory writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The University of Tenn was founded before Univ of Texas

bls8617#370509 writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You would have to be an absolute idiot to think that Tennessee fans think" UTenn" as you call it is an elite men's basketball program. Bruce Pearl has only been there for 4 years and there certainly aren't any guarantees. I think the real comedy lies in the fact that Tennessee is a football school who threw some money around, got a good coach, and now beats you more times than not. So, just by you being here shows how much you crave to beat "UTenn". Its kinda sad, like you said, we aren't very good and you only got us by two points and we even had a shot to tie it haha. Also, I don't know why your so high on Memphis though. Hardly anyone outside of Memphis thinks that that program is an elite one year in and year out. I mean, Memphis has ZERO national championships. So congratulations you beat Tennessee wow, so did Temple and Gonzaga twice. Show me something more impressive (please don't include the choke job in the title game last year b/c thats called an embarrassment)

orange_glory writes:

The Univ of Tenn was founded before The Univ of Texas

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to bls8617#370509:

You would have to be an absolute idiot to think that Tennessee fans think" UTenn" as you call it is an elite men's basketball program. Bruce Pearl has only been there for 4 years and there certainly aren't any guarantees. I think the real comedy lies in the fact that Tennessee is a football school who threw some money around, got a good coach, and now beats you more times than not. So, just by you being here shows how much you crave to beat "UTenn". Its kinda sad, like you said, we aren't very good and you only got us by two points and we even had a shot to tie it haha. Also, I don't know why your so high on Memphis though. Hardly anyone outside of Memphis thinks that that program is an elite one year in and year out. I mean, Memphis has ZERO national championships. So congratulations you beat Tennessee wow, so did Temple and Gonzaga twice. Show me something more impressive (please don't include the choke job in the title game last year b/c thats called an embarrassment)

well put. i, as a VOL fan, have never claimed to be a fan of a national b-ball power. however, mempus fans constantly flood our site claiming to have all this tradition that they don't have. hummmm....mempus kittys...no NCs...the tradition of UAB and the arogance of Duke. i know we are a bad playoff team, but we're a bad playoff team against other teams. we're STILL 12-8 all time against mempus and i don't even care what our record is.

these mempus fans call this game a rivalry. we've played them...what 20 times?! we've played our real rivals over a hundred times a peice. isn't there a team in what ever conference they're in that cares more than us about them?

VOLKING writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please...some 12 year old punk from Memphis comes on here just to stir things up. Memphis is still in the state of TN (some may say unfortunately), so you are rooting for a team that represents one little city. We are the state, my friend...and you will never know what that is like. BTW, I love Texans. They are just former Tennesseans anyway...Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, etc. Please go back to your Xbox and leave the talking to the real men, kid. Bite on that, kittycat!

VOLKING writes:

We've also beaten Memphis 7 of the last 10 times we played them. Maybe you'll catch up someday.

ZWVol11 writes:

Quick question isn't there only 2700 seats in the student section? Maybe this time when they hand out stuff every student will get something.

snafu14u#241639 writes:

The problem with the basketball team is that now their offense is as bad as the football teams. What happened there? And Smith said we're not that far off. Fulmer said the same thing. The only difference is that Fulmer believed it.bonzaivol

mike#208050 writes:

in response to VOLKING:

We've also beaten Memphis 7 of the last 10 times we played them. Maybe you'll catch up someday.

Just for the record, in the NCAA tournament, UT has made it 16 times with a record of 13-17 and a no better finish than the sweet sixteen. Memphis has been 21 times with record of 30-21 and 3 final four appearances, and 3 elite eight appearances.

Little brother we don't have to prove anything to you. Enjoy this series while you can because it will soon end. Memphis will dump UT to play N.Carolina and Duke after next year. LSU becoming a "MUST WIN" now that is funny.

TIGRFAN in knoxville

floridavolsfan writes:

The "brain surgeon's" are all on the basketball court! My name is Duke DeLuca and I sign my posts...

floridavolsfan writes:

The Vols may be down in sports right now but the "Kifferama"---Full Monte Baby----there's a new boss in town----- Here comes the Sun!!!! Ringo Starr....

tennrich1 writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh my...me thinks the city of Memphis school you attends didnt teach history...real history that is...Texas wasnt even a thought when Tennessee, your state was forming...Moron!

bluetiger writes:

in response to General_Watermelon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Our conference schedule is what it is. All we can do is play it.

The point is that we do make it to the Big Dance, and we have a dang good record when we get there. UTK's tourney record is nowhere near ours. Your record is what it is.

Like I pointed out to another mullet head yesterday, UCLA, Texas and Michigan State are not in CUSA. And I believe we beat every one of them, by impressive margins.

I don't know how far we'll go this year, but I do know that the Memphis bball has a bright future. With probably the number one recruiting class next year, it's a pretty sure bet we'll be playing well into March next season. And with the national prominence we have, we'll keep getting more and more quality recruits. NBA-bound players like to play for teams that get a lot of coverage.

So go cry in your moonshine. And cheer up, looks like your football program might be on the way back.

RockyTopper writes:

"I remember it was ugly,'' said Vols' junior wing J.P. Prince.... "There were a lot of bricks getting thrown up.'' -- That statement can be said about nearly every game THIS year.

And if not for uTenn, uTex would be uMex.

TDTN writes:

in response to bls8617#370509:

You would have to be an absolute idiot to think that Tennessee fans think" UTenn" as you call it is an elite men's basketball program. Bruce Pearl has only been there for 4 years and there certainly aren't any guarantees. I think the real comedy lies in the fact that Tennessee is a football school who threw some money around, got a good coach, and now beats you more times than not. So, just by you being here shows how much you crave to beat "UTenn". Its kinda sad, like you said, we aren't very good and you only got us by two points and we even had a shot to tie it haha. Also, I don't know why your so high on Memphis though. Hardly anyone outside of Memphis thinks that that program is an elite one year in and year out. I mean, Memphis has ZERO national championships. So congratulations you beat Tennessee wow, so did Temple and Gonzaga twice. Show me something more impressive (please don't include the choke job in the title game last year b/c thats called an embarrassment)

Amen to that! If calapari was a smart coach he would have fouled the Kansas player before he got the 3 point shot off at the end of the game and given him a 1 and 1. Instead the idiot let the guy drill the 3 to put the game into overtime. Any intelligent coach would not let that happen. His poor coaching cost them the title.

jdcvols#230433 writes:

in response to wlvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is it a must win so we can have home court advantage in the NIT tournament. Face it, we play in the worst BB league this year..we are the big ten of basketball like they are in football. Free Throws anyone?

VolJunkie writes:

UT (Utex is in Uranus) needs to defend their home court the rest of the season. IMHO, they will finish the regular season, 21-9 or 20-10, win at least two games in the SEC tourney. They will make the NCAA, 6-8 seed.

BTW, what if KNS charged a nominal annual fee ($5-$10) to post on their site with ALL money donated to the oUTlive program? This would keep the children and casual trolls (same thing?) off the site and raise money for a great cause. Just a thought ...

Go Vols!

BigDave1964 writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did someone say Douche Bag!!!

THE_VOL writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You Mempiss Morons would know about SECOND wouldn't you???

The_the writes:

you idiots do realize that guy is going to keep doing the "uTenn" phooey on every article if he gets 20+ bites? best not let your panties get in a bunch to begin with.

THE_VOL writes:

in response to ZWVol11:

Quick question isn't there only 2700 seats in the student section? Maybe this time when they hand out stuff every student will get something.

Hey azzhole...why don't you just do the right thing and BUY ONE!! Or can't you give up that 12 pack for one night????

THE_VOL writes:

Vols win a close one tonight. Line-up change will pay off. On the way to 12-4 SEC and 5 - 7 seed. Relax people!

Isn't it interesting though that all the azzholes that simply jumped on the bandwagon the last few years jump off real quick when the light dims a bit! You know who you are and I will be here to "chat" with you come March!

Basketball_Jones writes:

I doubt UT wins this one. LSU has better shooters and better defenders. We're not very good on offense and there pretty good on defense. They should be happy to go 1-1 this week

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The real UT is in Austin? puhhhleeease! If it weren't for Tennessee, Texas would still be a part of Mexico! (or even more than it is now)

The real UT is, and always has been, in Knoxville!

JayTee writes:

During the off season Bruce should have been more concerned about Shooters and less about Hooters.

GR82BAVOL writes:

The "BasketVOLS" are due for a break-out game. This young team hasn't shot the ball well this season, nor have they played the defense we've been accustomed to since Pearl arrived. They've had a pretty good bit of time together now, so the team chemistry should be improving with every game.

I predict one of these next two games will be a blow-out in UT's favor. Come together boys! Let's do it!

P.S. UTENN??? Yep, one would have to be "TENN" to post up that negative puke. :-)

bleed_orange writes:

in response to GOTGO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think this is probally a down year in the SEC. However, I think the teams that get into the NCAA big dance will make some noise and surprise alot of people. Just look at AR beating TX & OK and being 0-4 in the SEC. GO VOLS! BEAT LSU!

RoyaltyVol writes:

To stay in the hunt in the east, these next 2 games are must wins. This years team don't impress me, I believe they will make the NCAA tourney by the skin of their teeth and maybe win 1 game in the NCAA tourney, but I believe thats as far as this team goes. And if we lose Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism after this season to the NBA (which will happen) then next year will definately be a rebuilding year. I just hope we have some awesome talent coming in next year

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to GOTGO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You might want to add 7 out of 10 to that for all the illiterates at Tiger High who come on here and claim their annual dominance over us.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bls8617#370509:

You would have to be an absolute idiot to think that Tennessee fans think" UTenn" as you call it is an elite men's basketball program. Bruce Pearl has only been there for 4 years and there certainly aren't any guarantees. I think the real comedy lies in the fact that Tennessee is a football school who threw some money around, got a good coach, and now beats you more times than not. So, just by you being here shows how much you crave to beat "UTenn". Its kinda sad, like you said, we aren't very good and you only got us by two points and we even had a shot to tie it haha. Also, I don't know why your so high on Memphis though. Hardly anyone outside of Memphis thinks that that program is an elite one year in and year out. I mean, Memphis has ZERO national championships. So congratulations you beat Tennessee wow, so did Temple and Gonzaga twice. Show me something more impressive (please don't include the choke job in the title game last year b/c thats called an embarrassment)

DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!!!

bleed_orange writes:

in response to jdcvols#230433:

Is it a must win so we can have home court advantage in the NIT tournament. Face it, we play in the worst BB league this year..we are the big ten of basketball like they are in football. Free Throws anyone?

I think the SEC teams that make the NCAA big dance will surprise alot of people. Look at AR at 0-4 in the SEC, but beat TX & OK this year. GO VOLS-BEAT LSU!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to orange_glory:

The Univ of Tenn was founded before The Univ of Texas

You too. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!!! He/they don't CARE when UT, either of them, was founded; they just want to YANK YOUR CHAIN!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to snafu14u#241639:

The problem with the basketball team is that now their offense is as bad as the football teams. What happened there? And Smith said we're not that far off. Fulmer said the same thing. The only difference is that Fulmer believed it.bonzaivol

We are as "far off" as our shots right now. If we had shot 10% better--FGs and FTs either or both--we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. The defense has been MUCH improved since the UK game. If we settle down and make some shots, we should still be okay.

ZWVol11 writes:

in response to THE_VOL:

Hey azzhole...why don't you just do the right thing and BUY ONE!! Or can't you give up that 12 pack for one night????

First off I am a student here at this school. All I was asking is the number of seats there. So get off my back. I go to every game and I'm there when the gates open everytime. I planned on buying one but I'm sorry not all of us have mommy and daddy's money to spend while we're in college and I like the fact that we have a coach that actually cares for his fans here (even if he's afraid they won't show up). You sir are the azzhole for making assumptions so mind your own business unless you have an answer for me.

bfrank78 writes:

I wonder if Pearl took notes from Ole Miss on how to play smothering defense on an elite scorer lastnight. Meeks was held to 4-15 shooting lastnight.

volmattna writes:

We will be ok! This is a tough lsu team that will give us some trouble. But we will pull it out and get ready for the showdown saturday. My how easy would it be to be a mempis fan? to just have to worry about the tremendous cusa and rack up about 18 wins over high school teams. Oh they are a high school! tiger high! GO VOLS!!

TopTenn writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, Memphis in Orange Mound, TN. Third Tier, Third World,

volfan1985 writes:

Come on boys!! you can do it!

THE_VOL writes:

in response to bleed_orange:

I think the SEC teams that make the NCAA big dance will surprise alot of people. Look at AR at 0-4 in the SEC, but beat TX & OK this year. GO VOLS-BEAT LSU!

KY, FL, LSU and TN making the dance will not surprise anyone. Nobody else in this league has a remote shot!

THE_VOL writes:

in response to ZWVol11:

First off I am a student here at this school. All I was asking is the number of seats there. So get off my back. I go to every game and I'm there when the gates open everytime. I planned on buying one but I'm sorry not all of us have mommy and daddy's money to spend while we're in college and I like the fact that we have a coach that actually cares for his fans here (even if he's afraid they won't show up). You sir are the azzhole for making assumptions so mind your own business unless you have an answer for me.

Hey dweeb...YOU were the one that said "maybe this time when they give something out, everybody will get one" As if somebody OWES you something or perhaps you didn't get your little freebie bobblehead. And don't give me that mommy and daddy nonsense - it's $15 bucks and most students blow that on booze in one night. So STFU, buy a t-shirt, and stop complaining like a spoiled brat!

givehim6 writes:

I remember saying on here therer were many SEC teams were looking for pay back for the last few years from UT, hope I was wrong.

Fryinpansvols writes:

Get it done Vols! Play hard for 40 minutes on Offense and Defense! You can do it!

Vol_Jokes writes:

Seems you people have finally gotten some fight back in you. Was fun to come on here and insult you and nobody even would respond. I was almost feeling sorry for you fellers. Getting beat by your big brother is tough i'm sure. I'm glad you peoples anti depressants have kicked in . Maybe you'll be ok. You might better double up on it after the next couple of games. Wonder why brucie decided to spend his own money on the shirts and it just so happens that the game is on national tv and the espn gameday crew is there. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. I'll bet the odds are pretty good that this wonderful move will be mentioned by espn but i'm sure pearl doesn't care about that. I know that didn't even enter his mind. I'm sure he would have done the same thing if nobody was carrying the game and not many people would hear about it.....right???

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LMAO!!!!!
"The bones NEVER lie"!!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features