Addition of Pearl, Hopson can't save Vols, 73-61

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl yells to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in Lexington, Ky.

Photo by AP Photo / Ed Reinke

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl yells to his team during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in Lexington, Ky.

Bruce Pearl talks about the Vols' loss at Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tennessee got coach Bruce Pearl and leading scorer Scotty Hopson back Tuesday night.

But the Vols weren’t close to getting a victory.

Kentucky rolled over Tennessee, 73-61, in a men’s basketball game that never seemed that close at Rupp Arena.

“It was good to be back, but I wish I could have helped my team more,’’ Pearl said. “I didn’t help them enough to stay within range.’’

The 18th-ranked Wildcats (17-6, 5-4 SEC) led by as many as 19 points in the first half over the Vols (15-9, 5-4) and were up by double digits throughout most all of the second half.

Melvin Goins led UT with 16 points, Josh Bone had 13 points, Tobias Harris had 10 and Hopson scored 11, five under his average, in his first game back since spraining his left ankle in a Feb. 1 practice.

Hopson, who missed the last two games, started and played 24 minutes, finishing 3-of-8 shooting with two assists and two turnovers.

“I thought Scotty Hopson showed you something; he really battled to get back,’’ said Pearl, who was coaching his first SEC game of the season after an eight-game league suspension for lying to the NCAA. “He answered some toughness questions. He’s not 100 percent, but I thought he attacked the rim.’’

The Wildcats did, too, taking their largest lead when 6-foot-10 senior Josh Harrellson tipped in a Jon Hood miss to make it 33-14 at the 5:51 mark of the first half and cap a 17-2 run.

Tennessee battled back, closing out the first half with a 14-2 spurt to draw to 35-28.

When Goins hit a jumper to start the second half, the Vols were within five, and the crowd of 24,334 quieted a bit.

But it wasn’t long before Kentucky had the Big Blue fans raising the roof again, as it answered UT’s opening salvo with a 13-0 run of its own. It was 48-30, Wildcats, on a Harrellson put-back basket at the 15:57 mark.

The Vols couldn’t get closer than 10 points after that.

The 13-0 Kentucky run began with consecutive rebounds after missed free throws, which Pearl said was pivotal.

“They kept giving us chances to get back into it,’’ Pearl said. “But then they were playing volleyball (after the missed free throws), and that set the tone.

“I thought toughness and rebounding were two areas they needed to win, and they did.’’

Bone, whose 13 points represented his UT career high, said it was a team loss.

“We didn’t play hard enough, and we didn’t play tough as a team,’’ Bone said. “They punked us.’’

Brian Williams, who had eight points and nine rebounds, said the team was excited to have Pearl back in the huddle.

“Coach is one of the greatest motivators I’ve ever been around,’’ Williams said. “This game is on the players.

“It takes special to win in here, and we didn’t have it.’’

DeAndre Liggins led Kentucky with 19 points, Harrellson had 16 points, Brandon Knight had 12 and Terrance Jones scored 10.

Jones was a force on the boards with 11 rebounds, as the Wildcats out-rebounded UT 38-28.

Kentucky also held a commanding advantage at the foul line. The Wildcats knocked down 22 of 27 free throws while the Vols were 8-of-12 shooting from the foul line.

It was the Wildcats’ 30th consecutive win at home, the second-longest streak of its kind in the nation (Duke 32).

Kentucky’s win was also its fifth straight in Rupp Arena over Tennessee, which hasn’t won in Lexington since 2006 when former UT All-American Chris Lofton scored 31 points in a 75-67 victory.

Tennessee returns to action at 6 p.m. Saturday at No.17 Florida (TV:ESPN).

The Gators (18-5, 7-2) lead the SEC Eastern Division and play at South Carolina (13-8, 4-4) today.

Hopson, whose start was a game-time decision on Tuesday, said his ankle was sore leaving Rupp Arena.

“I just tried not to worry about it tonight,’’ Hopson said. “I tried to put it out of my mind.’’

Woolridge Not On Trip: UT junior Renaldo Woolridge did not travel with the team due to an injured ankle. Woolridge, who hasn’t played since the Vols’ Jan. 5 win over Memphis, did not take part in Monday’s drills, either.

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Comments » 174

VolunteerLifer writes:

I don't think I care anymore.

stevefrommemphis writes:

I never concede a game to Kentucky until the NCAA has been given five years to decide whether the Wildcats need to vacate the victory.

Bubbanuts2010 writes:

Didn't think they would win at UK, we'll be waiting when they come to town. GBO

agohn writes:

At least we don't have to worry about who's going to win in football. Mark it down 27 in a row.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Hate to be negative, but that was a horrendous overall effort.

We did not protect the ball, made terrible passes and didn't get after it on the boards. Our attitude almost seemed to be "I'll let my teammate get the rebound instead".

Kentucky wanted it more. We didn't. We're lucky we didn't get beat by 40.

Futurecoach16 writes:

Pathetic effort all together. Nothing else can be said. If a team cannot be excited to play in a place like Rupp, they should not in. Williams has GOT to man up and finish around the rim. He could not pay for better looks than he got tonight. Sigh. Time to work on the Gators. Still have a chance to get a bye in the SEC tourney and make it to the big dance.

wildcatbasketball writes:

in response to agohn:

At least we don't have to worry about who's going to win in football. Mark it down 27 in a row.

FOOTBALL ALWAYS comes up!!! GET OVER IT!!! WAS this a BASKETBALL GAME????

PeeEllthree writes:

Ky played pretty well. Hit a bunch of shots. We looked slow and robotic. Forced play and lacked composure from the start. When Harrelson outplays Williams/Fields/Harris/Tatum/Pearl combined you are up shen creek.

agohn writes:

in response to wildcatbasketball:

FOOTBALL ALWAYS comes up!!! GET OVER IT!!! WAS this a BASKETBALL GAME????

Wah, Tim Tebow.

LSG410EC83 writes:

Kentucky wanted it more than we did. All there is to it. So all of you Kentucky fans that seem to love to come to the board, congrats. You all deserved it tonight. Now as for UT, we better get our heads on straight and play the way you are capabale of playing. I have not given up on you like many have. Still look forward to seeing the rest of the season and see if you can step up to the plate and play. Go after the Gators, PLEASE. GO BIG ORANGE.

zigvol writes:

We will beat them in Knoxville.

lomas98 writes:

This game reminded me of some when TN had their backs against the wall in conference play and had to get a win at home. KY was that tonight. This is always a loss on the schedule. With the exception of probably Vandy every other game is winnable. Was hoping for a split this week and that is still within reach. Too many mistakes to win on the road tonight. Too bad Goins didn't play like that against Bama. That game will come back to haunt us. Wish we played KY last Sat and Bama tonight in Bruce's first game back.

samvol writes:

what happened to the 5th year great fly swatter? did john fields play?

oldbasshead writes:

I think the substituting pattern and frequency is hurting the Vols rhythm. I hope Pearl will take a look at that. If the Vols were pressing it might be different.

eduardo writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Hate to be negative, but that was a horrendous overall effort.

We did not protect the ball, made terrible passes and didn't get after it on the boards. Our attitude almost seemed to be "I'll let my teammate get the rebound instead".

Kentucky wanted it more. We didn't. We're lucky we didn't get beat by 40.

I agree, and I will up that to 60. Pearl needs to reevaluate what they are doing in playing style and recruiting. I just dont like this methodical style of play and lack of effort. Please bring back CONTROLLED CHAOS!!!

lomas98 writes:

in response to samvol:

what happened to the 5th year great fly swatter? did john fields play?

John Fields is not a difference maker. He did "swat" the first 2 shots of the game for KY and had another one in the 2nd half. Based on what he has done all year, what do you expect of him?

BigVolinCarolina writes:

One thing is for certain about this year's squad: in the games we lose, we make it absolutely ugly on all fronts (help defense, rebounding, passing).

I still stand amazed that our players still don't know how to properly defend the high-ball perimeter screen. Unbelievable.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

That football subject stings them doesn't it?
We can concede basketball up there pretty much always, but ole' stand by's are always there..........
the Lady Vols and that little ball that bounces funny when kicked ( 26 ).

True, they were hungry for this win ( U K ) and deserved it. They out quicked us to the loose balls, shot lights out, and lived at the line ( and most of those free throws were legit for them. ) I did like the 5 step route Harralson took for his 3 point play.

Congratulations Cat fans.

Anyway, better team won it and we move on.

agohn writes:

in response to wildcatbasketball:

FOOTBALL ALWAYS comes up!!! GET OVER IT!!! WAS this a BASKETBALL GAME????

I've come to the realization in the past 20 or more years that Kentucky will win 85% of the time in basketball. I've also come to realization that Tennessee will win in 99.9% of the time in football. I gotta say, I'll take football over basketball anyday. Suck it.

The_Mayor writes:

Never as evident tonight that Calipari has dominated Pearl on every conceivable level. This was not the kids fault. UT's program and despite the vast improvement from where we were before Pearl's arrival is NOTHING relative to the level of what that dastardly Calapari is. I hate this, because I am all Vol, win or lose.

oldbasshead writes:

When Hopson is in the game, everybody else stops being offensively aggressive. Where was Tatum tonight. Can explain what happened to Harris.

LSG410EC83 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

That football subject stings them doesn't it?
We can concede basketball up there pretty much always, but ole' stand by's are always there..........
the Lady Vols and that little ball that bounces funny when kicked ( 26 ).

True, they were hungry for this win ( U K ) and deserved it. They out quicked us to the loose balls, shot lights out, and lived at the line ( and most of those free throws were legit for them. ) I did like the 5 step route Harralson took for his 3 point play.

Congratulations Cat fans.

Anyway, better team won it and we move on.

AMEN, AND AMEN. GO BIG ORANGE.

huntined#565710 writes:

Hard to win on the road in the SEC but the effort was not there at times tonight. Got to give KY. credit as they were ready to play and hit some big shots.Got to move on and get ready for a trip to FLA. and that will not be a easy game either..
I did watch the GA. game tonight and it looked as if they got HOSED by the ref's in that game..Just hard to remember it is just a game.
and as I have said all along YOU GOT TO HAVE A STRONG HEART TO BE A VOL FAN!!!

lomas98 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Hate to be negative, but that was a horrendous overall effort.

We did not protect the ball, made terrible passes and didn't get after it on the boards. Our attitude almost seemed to be "I'll let my teammate get the rebound instead".

Kentucky wanted it more. We didn't. We're lucky we didn't get beat by 40.

The worst of that effort was right out of halftime. That run KY made after we cut to 5 was difference in the game and it was all based on lack of effort and lazy passes by TN. Thought the guys would be more fired up with Pearl back on the bench than they were tonight. Scotty played well, Goins played well, Bone played prett well. Wish goins played like that last Saturday. That is the problem with our team, every game somebody plays well and then the next game plays horrible. Inconsistent. Harris played his worst game as a vol. Next game Harris and Williams will probably play well and Goins and Bone will stink it up.

VOLKING writes:

We played with no passion tonight. Cats deserved to win. Somebody better light a fire under these guys soon...or it's gonna be a long month.

zigvol writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Never as evident tonight that Calipari has dominated Pearl on every conceivable level. This was not the kids fault. UT's program and despite the vast improvement from where we were before Pearl's arrival is NOTHING relative to the level of what that dastardly Calapari is. I hate this, because I am all Vol, win or lose.

Dude you are absolutely full of shxx!!

The_Mayor writes:

in response to zigvol:

Dude you are absolutely full of shxx!!

Dude, you're absolutely in denial.

lomas98 writes:

in response to agohn:

I've come to the realization in the past 20 or more years that Kentucky will win 85% of the time in basketball. I've also come to realization that Tennessee will win in 99.9% of the time in football. I gotta say, I'll take football over basketball anyday. Suck it.

We finished 6-7 in football with a win over KY. That's great. Lets beat them in a sport when a win actually means something.

wildcatbasketball writes:

in response to agohn:

I've come to the realization in the past 20 or more years that Kentucky will win 85% of the time in basketball. I've also come to realization that Tennessee will win in 99.9% of the time in football. I gotta say, I'll take football over basketball anyday. Suck it.

agohn

I will be the first to agree. but to say "suck it"...WOW...

We both agree and you end with that comment....have a good night...you need it based on that comment

oldbasshead writes:

This game makes me wonder if there is not a split in loyalties to coaches by the players and some jealousy. Players didn't seem to have any chemistry.

PeeEllthree writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Never as evident tonight that Calipari has dominated Pearl on every conceivable level. This was not the kids fault. UT's program and despite the vast improvement from where we were before Pearl's arrival is NOTHING relative to the level of what that dastardly Calapari is. I hate this, because I am all Vol, win or lose.

Yeah. BP should go in and win in Rupp every time. Brilliant post and way to keep one game in perspective.

lomas98 writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Never as evident tonight that Calipari has dominated Pearl on every conceivable level. This was not the kids fault. UT's program and despite the vast improvement from where we were before Pearl's arrival is NOTHING relative to the level of what that dastardly Calapari is. I hate this, because I am all Vol, win or lose.

Right. Pearl was the one not grabbing rebounds off missed free throws. Pearl was the one making lazy passes leading to breakaway dunks. Pearl was the one throwing outlet passes over heads. Pearl was the one missing point blank inbounds shots. Pearl was the one not feeding our bigs when they had position.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to oldbasshead:

I think the substituting pattern and frequency is hurting the Vols rhythm. I hope Pearl will take a look at that. If the Vols were pressing it might be different.

I agree with you, but that is how CBP rolls. Most of us have been complaining about that one thing all season.

huntined#565710 writes:

Not sure what was wrong with Harris in the game but maybe he was just trying too hard. This was by far his worst performance of the year. I think he will be fine and maybe all of them get healed from all the injuries.Let's hope so.By the way I really don't think many of us felt good about this game and not many expected a win at their house..

zigvol writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Dude, you're absolutely in denial.

You call it improvement? We are leaps and bounds better since Pearl arrived. Do you not remember the sub 500 seasons? P.S. Calipari is a joke!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Congrats wildcat! Ky does have the BETTER team. I wish you well on your journey, until we meet again. GBO!

The_Mayor writes:

in response to lomas98:

Right. Pearl was the one not grabbing rebounds off missed free throws. Pearl was the one making lazy passes leading to breakaway dunks. Pearl was the one throwing outlet passes over heads. Pearl was the one missing point blank inbounds shots. Pearl was the one not feeding our bigs when they had position.

Look guys, you can take this like little blind loyalists or you can be real. What's happening is not good. We've capped out all potential in the type of kid Pearl recruits. Kentucky was COMPLETELY wiped out by the number of kids that left after last season. What did Calipari do? Rhetorical question. You saw that first hand tonight. Kentucky looked like elite college veterans, and UT looked like scared highschool kids. Kentucky is the 10th youngest team in NCAA divsion 1.

I love UT. I cannot stand Calapari or what he appears to stand for morally. I do not know if Bruce Pearl is much better in that regard, as his actions speak for themselves...I don't care to speak for him. But things are what they are. It is not "one game". It is what you saw vs. UConn, Bama and KY most recently that defines the character and of this program. Sorry it this rubs some of you the wrong way. What happened on the court tonight should be the real culprit.

BigOSammO writes:

Bruce doesn't seem himself. He won't be and this team won't be until we can get an outcome. It is utterly ridiculous that it has taken this long.

Dear NCAAA:

Our boy has definitely made a minor mistake and lied about it -- same charge any other college coach would also be guilty of, if investigated. We realize that we have been targeted and have no out now that you have found your dirt. Please own your authority and stop meeting with and being influenced by third party, money-seeking, blood-suckers. Produce your own penalty, using your own rationale. Give it to us and let's move on.

Thanks and G.B.O.!

BigOSammO

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Look guys, you can take this like little blind loyalists or you can be real. What's happening is not good. We've capped out all potential in the type of kid Pearl recruits. Kentucky was COMPLETELY wiped out by the number of kids that left after last season. What did Calipari do? Rhetorical question. You saw that first hand tonight. Kentucky looked like elite college veterans, and UT looked like scared highschool kids. Kentucky is the 10th youngest team in NCAA divsion 1.

I love UT. I cannot stand Calapari or what he appears to stand for morally. I do not know if Bruce Pearl is much better in that regard, as his actions speak for themselves...I don't care to speak for him. But things are what they are. It is not "one game". It is what you saw vs. UConn, Bama and KY most recently that defines the character and of this program. Sorry it this rubs some of you the wrong way. What happened on the court tonight should be the real culprit.

You've got my vote on this one, Mayor.

In addition, I've never been sold or convinced of Pearl's philosophy on offense. It's rather obvious that teams have figured it out and know how to beat us. On the other hand, Pearl hasn't figured out a way to counter-punch.

lomas98 writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Look guys, you can take this like little blind loyalists or you can be real. What's happening is not good. We've capped out all potential in the type of kid Pearl recruits. Kentucky was COMPLETELY wiped out by the number of kids that left after last season. What did Calipari do? Rhetorical question. You saw that first hand tonight. Kentucky looked like elite college veterans, and UT looked like scared highschool kids. Kentucky is the 10th youngest team in NCAA divsion 1.

I love UT. I cannot stand Calapari or what he appears to stand for morally. I do not know if Bruce Pearl is much better in that regard, as his actions speak for themselves...I don't care to speak for him. But things are what they are. It is not "one game". It is what you saw vs. UConn, Bama and KY most recently that defines the character and of this program. Sorry it this rubs some of you the wrong way. What happened on the court tonight should be the real culprit.

Playing at home and playing on the road are totally different. This same KY that looked like veterans tonight, looked like scared high school kids agains Ole Miss, FL, and Bama. I don't like Calipari either, but he has always got the best talent. Look at next years KY class. To say losses define the character of this program is moronic. What do the tough wins say about character of program? You only speak of the losses and to define a progam based on a loss somewhere where TN has only won twice in the last 30 years is unfair.

VOLinGA writes:

We were SOFT tonight. T. Harris is playing soft. Looked like a Freshman tonight. Is he hurting or just hit a wall. No explosiveness. Scotty tried but he looked a step slow. We have NO scorers. Tatum is lost. Brian does what he can put he's limited because he can't get off the floor. Point guard play is average. Bottom line, this is just a very average team. What bothered me most is we just didn't have any fire. We look like we're trying, but it's a mirage. There is a difference when you grit your teeth and D up. They punked us. We also don't realize momentum and taking care of the ball in those situations...getting a good shot. How many time do we get back in it just to turn it over 2-3 possessions in a row.

The_Mayor writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

You've got my vote on this one, Mayor.

In addition, I've never been sold or convinced of Pearl's philosophy on offense. It's rather obvious that teams have figured it out and know how to beat us. On the other hand, Pearl hasn't figured out a way to counter-punch.

Thank you Big Vol. There is a cap we've hit in the level of excellence we will achieve under Pearl. Calapari, Coach K, Roy Williams, Boeheim...that is excellence in competitiveness (again, don't misunderstand me to be saying that I approve of Calapari's integrity...or lack thereof). That is what I want for UT.

stompintheswamp2 writes:

We are very talented, but not very smart. We lose our composure and make careless mistakes. This is what separates us from other teams. Poor decisions. Pearls an emotional roller coaster and so is his team. High emotion is great for short term, which is why we can jump up and beat great teams. To win consistently, to win championships, however, we need that steady composure.
And then there's that nagging issue of too many rotating in and out.
Tonite our effort on rebounding was horrible. Someone please tell these players that defense and REBOUNDING win championships. (Pat?)
Come to think of it, this team has so many issues, I get headaches thinking about it. I hope the NCAA considers the pain our fans have suffered this year when the hammer comes down. I am going to have to start just watching every other game, or I am going to need therapy. Whew well thanks for letting me vent. Go Vols!

The_Mayor writes:

in response to lomas98:

Playing at home and playing on the road are totally different. This same KY that looked like veterans tonight, looked like scared high school kids agains Ole Miss, FL, and Bama. I don't like Calipari either, but he has always got the best talent. Look at next years KY class. To say losses define the character of this program is moronic. What do the tough wins say about character of program? You only speak of the losses and to define a progam based on a loss somewhere where TN has only won twice in the last 30 years is unfair.

Other than stating to you that I don't have the time or lack of intelligence to converse with you on your level is the extent of any sort of acknowledgement I'll give you. Stooping to call people "moronic" is...well, obviously the limits of your potential as well.

oldbasshead writes:

in response to VOLinGA:

We were SOFT tonight. T. Harris is playing soft. Looked like a Freshman tonight. Is he hurting or just hit a wall. No explosiveness. Scotty tried but he looked a step slow. We have NO scorers. Tatum is lost. Brian does what he can put he's limited because he can't get off the floor. Point guard play is average. Bottom line, this is just a very average team. What bothered me most is we just didn't have any fire. We look like we're trying, but it's a mirage. There is a difference when you grit your teeth and D up. They punked us. We also don't realize momentum and taking care of the ball in those situations...getting a good shot. How many time do we get back in it just to turn it over 2-3 possessions in a row.

In Tatum's defense, he disappears when Hopson is in the game. In the two games Hopson missed Tatum was one of our best players. Pearls system doesn't somehow doesn't take advantage of both players. Then when you add in trying to feed Harris, Tatum just becomes a no factor. When UT is playing its best, they have balance scoring.

BigOSammO writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

You've got my vote on this one, Mayor.

In addition, I've never been sold or convinced of Pearl's philosophy on offense. It's rather obvious that teams have figured it out and know how to beat us. On the other hand, Pearl hasn't figured out a way to counter-punch.

Big Vol in C - Good post.

But --- Do you realize the stats that are stacked against your argument against Bruce? Please produce the stats from the last coach that can compare to what Bruce has accomplished:

Attendance
Win-Loss
NCAA Appearances
Merchandise Revenue
...

Go Bruce. Go Vols. Please NCAA - Give us our penalty and let's re-group and go ahead and win this year's tourney.

oldbasshead writes:

Talk about inconsistency, Goins scored in double figures tonight. Zero points against Alabama.

jerseydevilvol writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I dont agree. I still have faith in this team and I think with 7 reg season games left if we can get to 20 and win a couple in the sec tourny we are in. What seed? dont know dont care but the wins over Nova,Pitt,and Memphis cant be ignored, all ranked teams. The bad loses will kill us if you are right and we finish with 17 or 18 wins. The sec being down isnt helping us either. Anything can happen and im not giving up on them until selection time comes and the vols arent in the bracket.

lomas98 writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Other than stating to you that I don't have the time or lack of intelligence to converse with you on your level is the extent of any sort of acknowledgement I'll give you. Stooping to call people "moronic" is...well, obviously the limits of your potential as well.

You cant call a person moronic, you call them a moron and I didn't call you that. I said that defining a program based on a loss at Rupp arena or at UConn is a moronic statement. Guess I should have said it is a statement that I don't have the time or intelligence to converse with you about. You saying that you don't have the time to converse when it is after midnight on a message board is a little, well, moronic.

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