Jeronne Maymon sat hidden behind a half-closed door in the Tennessee basketball post-game interview room, chatting with the few reporters around him Saturday afternoon.
Some 10 feet away, a media frenzy was taking place around mid-term enrollee Jarnell Stokes, who scored nine points and had four rebounds in 17 minutes in his debut.
Some two dozen reporters and camera men from both Knoxville and Lexington, Ky., boxed one another out in an effort to get close to the Vols' newest star.
As positive of an impact as Stokes had on the floor, one had to wonder what type of ripple all of this attention might have on team chemistry.
Maymon, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the Vols' 65-62 loss to No. 2 Kentucky Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, answered that question with his comments on Stokes.
"He's a great player; Jarnell played really well today,'' Maymon said with a smile. "He can score the ball, and that will take some pressure off our other post. They can't double-team down there anymore.''
It turns out that Maymon, as well as suddenly resurgent post Kenny Hall, could be the two happiest people in Knoxville about Stokes' arrival.
UT coach Cuonzo Martin fielded questions about Stokes in stride on Saturday, tossing the 6-foot-8, 270-pound man-child appropriate bouquets.
But on Sunday, he was even more excited about Maymon and Hall.
"Jeronne Maymon and Kenny Hall are coming into their own, and they are showing they can hold their own against the nation's elite,'' Martin said.
"You look at yesterday (Saturday), but even before that, look at how Maymon and Hall played against Florida and Mississippi State before Jarnell got in there.''
Maymon has 40 points and 21 rebounds against three of the SEC's top front lines, while Hall has come off the bench to score 33 points and grab 11 rebounds against Florida, Mississippi State and Kentucky.
"It's not so important for the world to believe in them, so much as they can believe in themselves,'' Martin said. "Kenny and Jeronne are realizing the work they put in is paying off.
"If they've proven they can compete against the best, why can't they be considered some of the best of the best, too?''
The UT front line was a huge question mark coming into the season after losing first-round NBA pick Tobias Harris and center Brian Williams.
Maymon played in only 14 games last season with no starts, while Hall had but one start and played in just 25 of the team's 34 games. And yet, there they were, operating in the paint against the nation's top shot-blocking team, holding their own on the glass and in the paint scoring.
The Wildcats narrowly won the rebounding battle (35-32) and out-scored the Vols in the paint (28-24), but the difference in the game was on the perimeter and at the free-throw line, where Kentucky made 21 of 29 shots to UT's 14 of 20.
Martin said he likes what he sees from the Vols as they move forward, both on and off the court.
"Everybody has to deal with competition in life, and we have a unique situation here with Jarnell having just stepped on campus,'' Martin said. "But we preach family, team, together. The guys have bought in, they know it's not about any one individual.
"The way they've handled it makes a difference, and Jarnell has handled it well, too. He's just a humble kid who wants to get better.''
Attendance Game: Saturday's sellout (21,678) was the first at Thompson-Boling Arena this season, and the first since Kentucky came to Knoxville last season. The only other sellout last season was when a standing-room-only crowd of 21,948 was on hand to see Alabama play the Vols.
Saturday's game brings UT's average paid attendance up to 16,639 this season.
That's still down from last season's 18,952, but with SEC home games coming up and a tilt against defending national champion Connecticut next Saturday, the Vols project to finish in the nation's top 10 in attendance for a seventh straight season.
Bench game: UT's bench out-scored Kentucky's 24-9, in part because of Stokes' nine-point effort.
Vols junior Skylar McBee played a key role as well. Not only did McBee score six points in 25 minutes, but he also held Kentucky's leading scorer, Doron Lamb, to four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Lamb entered the game averaging a team-best 14.6 points per game.
Point guards: Challenged by their head coaches to defend with honor, Trae Golden and Marquis Teague made life miserable for each other.
Golden scored a season-low two points on 1-of-6 shooting while dishing out six assists with two turnovers. Teague had seven points on 3-of-8 shooting but had five turnovers and just one assist.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32