Basketball alarmists usually amuse me. In the context of a 30-something-game season, such extremists can watch one unfavorable game and envision a disastrous season.
I'm usually at the other end of the spectrum. One game - no matter how dazzling or dreadful - is of little import. And one bad week is just as insignificant.
In fact, you can struggle through an entire December or January and not convince me you're incapable of ascending to Final Four contention.
Usually, you can do that. But Tennessee provided an exception Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Never mind that the SEC basketball season isn't a week old. Tennessee's 81-75 overtime loss to Florida was crucial for a team that aspires to win a conference championship.
Combine that setback with Saturday's defeat at Arkansas and you have a rare 0-2 beginning in SEC play for UT.
How rare? Ray Mears coached 15 years at UT and never started 0-2 in conference play. Don DeVoe coached the Vols for 11 seasons and never lost his first two SEC games.
It never happened in five seasons with Bruce Pearl running the Vols, either. Pearl, who is serving the second game of his eight-game SEC suspension, watched at home while his team rallied to tie the Gators in regulation before faltering in overtime.
This game was different than the non-conference encounters the Vols frittered away this season on their home court. They played better. They just didn't play well enough to beat the Gators.
The loss is magnified by what happened last Saturday and by the challenges of competing in the competitive SEC East.
If you hope to win a championship, don't lose a divisional game at home and don't lose a non-divisional game anywhere. The Vols have violated both maxims.
They also have lost their five-game home winning streak against the Gators.
There were times in both the first and second halves when you probably thought the streak would continue.
Twice in the first half, the Vols appeared on the verge of taking control. Cameron Tatum, who had a team-high 21 points, and Scotty Hopson, who scored 20, fueled their momentum with big shots.
But each time, the Gators rallied, thanks mainly to a variety of offensive resources and a UT defense that was too often too lenient. Florida's starters scored between 11 and 18 points - and they did so from both inside and out. Alex Tyus tormented the Vols inside with 18 points; Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton combined to hit seven of 12 3-point tries.
That combination helped turn the game Florida's way in the second half. But when the Gators stretched their lead to eight points, the Vols demonstrated their resilience under associate head coach Tony Jones.
The Vols didn't lack for effort. They didn't lack for support, either.
A crowd of 19,846 turned up the volume in the best and worst of times against the Gators. And their team responded for the most part.
Along the way, you saw flashes of a UT team that has been good enough to knock off Villanova and Pittsburgh, yet bad enough to lose to Oakland and Charlotte.
In the overtime, UT simply couldn't produce enough offense, missing from both near and far as Florida took a six-point lead.
As tough as an overtime loss was, what comes next is tougher: digging yourself out of an 0-2 hole.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com. Follow him at http//twitter.com/johnadamskns.