John Adams: Another rivalry headed the wrong way for UT

John Adams
Memphis' D.J. Stephens struggles with Tennessee's JoshRichardson for the ball during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. UT lost 85-80. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Memphis' D.J. Stephens struggles with Tennessee's JoshRichardson for the ball during a game at Thompson-Boling Arena, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. UT lost 85-80. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Maybe we overdid the rivalry talk this week.

The possibility that Memphis might not continue its rivalry with the Vols dominated the pregame buildup.

But it was obvious by halftime the Vols need more than a rival. They need a rival they could beat.

The Tigers didn't qualify Friday night.

They made 16 of 25 first-half field goal attempts, bolted to a 21-point lead early in the second half; and held on for an 85-80 victory at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The suspense didn't last much longer than the pregame introductions, which provided the most joyous moments of the evening for a large, energized Tennessee crowd.

The crowd cheered new UT football coach Butch Jones and booed Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner. Neither reception was surprising.

Jones is undefeated at Tennessee. Pastner is the latest guy to reject the Vols.

Pastner made it clear during interviews this week that the Tennessee game didn't mean much more to him than the Tennessee-Martin game; if the rivalry ended with this game, so much the better.

Rejection doesn't play well at Tennessee these days. The Vols weren't worthy of a bowl bid, their three best offensive players chose an early entry into the NFL, and more than one coach turned them down before Jones agreed to head up a 5-7 football program.

Unfortunately for the Vols, Jones' pregame introduction didn't provide the only reminder of football season. So did the game.

The Vols started out terribly, rallied in the second half — and still lost for the fourth time in 12 games. A couple of football games came to mind along the way.

To its credit, the crowd didn't act as though it made the football-basketball connection. Every time the Vols hinted at a rally, it responded as though the impending surge would change the outcome.

But Memphis managed to make just enough plays down the stretch to produce a football-like ending for Tennessee. And that's surprising.

This basketball team might not have threatened to crack the top 10, but it has demonstrated sufficient toughness and defense to make a first half like Friday night's unimaginable.

Who would have thought these Vols would score 80 points and lose?

Answer: About as many people who thought a UT opponent would shoot the way Memphis did.

Tennessee entered the game allowing just 56.4 points per game. Memphis had 42 by halftime.

UT's first 11 opponents made 38.4 percent of their field-goal attempts. Memphis hit 56.4 percent of its shots, including 7-for-11 from 3-point range.

The turnaround turned another rivalry the wrong way for Tennessee. Memphis has now won the last three games in the series, which brings football to mind again.

The Vols haven't beaten Alabama since 2006. They haven't beaten Florida since 2004. They lost their last game to Vanderbilt by 23 points.

Who needs rivalries like that?

As for Pastner, he might be having second thoughts on the value of the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry. The way Memphis looked on the way to a 21-point lead, he should be lobbying to play the Vols twice a season.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 26

lguy (Inactive) writes:

It was really an atrocious coaching job by Martin. He plays the wrong personnel, and it is apparent that UT can score points. But they play like the coach -- they have a stick up their a** on offense. It was only when they were out of the game that he let them play. Then, they dominated the game. Some might take heart from that. I doubt he's learned any lesson at all. We'll be back to that exciting 50-point offense next time. It's really pitiful.

vorangel writes:

Good thing SEC basketball is lousy. This team is barely average - most of the time.
Butch is sure not wowwing the SEC-level football recruits so far. Hope it's a rosier picture come signing day than it is now. But the vibes are not positive.

redskinvol1 writes:

This was the bubble popping game!!

Razor784 writes:

Good article Adams, we did beat Florida and Vandy in BB last year, but wins over the rivals have been slim lately in all sports.

volzall writes:

Was the memphis coach in the movie the green mile ?

HarveyDent writes:

Of course Memphis doesnt want to continue the series. Despite having the all time better program we lead the series 14-11 or 12 now. And this game was very winnable. A missed dunk here and a goal tending that should have been called and we win that game. But unfortunately Memphis had the hot hand and even their circus shots were going in and they had several players shoot well above their season average from behind the arc. If I was a Memphis fan I would still be disappointed with the outcome. They have the talent to be a top 5 team in the country but their coaching will keep them a marginal top 25 team. Thank god Pastner is no Calipari. BTW while waiting on the buses to the AG campus my aunt walked by and I considered letting her keep going because she is a Tiger High fan but then I saw she had her mother and father with her so I decided to do the right thing and let them cut in line.

volaholic45 writes:

Adam's theme occurred to me last night. This game is what it means to be a Vols fan right now. Big crowd - check. Big flop - check. And just when it seems a miracle might happen, a missed dunk at one end and a three-point play at the other reminds everybody that this is Tennessee, where positive things are not allowed to happen. Go back to your double-wide and fry something, while the likes of Tiger High, Vandy, and even Austin Peay see what it's like to laugh at us like they are Florida, Bama, or Georgia.

What is it? Did Hart or Cheek do a murder? Is Fulmer still sticking pins in his VooDooley doll? Who knows? But for several years, it has NOT been great to be a Tennessee Vol.

bigdisbig writes:

How can you miss a dunk with no one around you? Oh I know.....you were too busy hotdogging to pay attention to your craft. The Vols play Rockytop League basketball. They need to do away with that league for it only feeds egos and fosters bad play in real games.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

How can you miss a dunk with no one around you? Oh I know.....you were too busy hotdogging to pay attention to your craft. The Vols play Rockytop League basketball. They need to do away with that league for it only feeds egos and fosters bad play in real games.

Only sensible post thus far. That play and several others indicate a lack of discipline...regardless what Martin tries to accomplish. To me, discipline is doing what one is supposed to do..every time...all the time. Hot dogging and street ball has no place in serious competition. Even if there is only one in one hundred chances it can go wrong. That one time can get you beat...like last night.

As for this article, Adams is getting lazy. He left out baseball, swimming and lady's volleyball in a stretch to dig up negatives. Those who support him by claiming he just tells it like it is are correct...often. However, it is not always necessary to offer up this phooey; we already know how it is so what is the journalistic point?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Good grief.

jone8191#247590 writes:

When does Bruce's show-cause run out?

gohawks1 writes:

John, you forgot to mention that UT still leads the series 14-10. Have you submitted your application to the Commercial Appeal yet?

Olddogsrule writes:

lil' johnnyboy's jus' upset he got turned down for his dream job at National Enquirer ... but he can rest easy ... kns keeping the likes of him on proves they've already made great strides in sinking into the same slimey genre. It's a shame "Bat Boy" didn't go in for sports.

NGage writes:

Hey look! Another John Adams/KNS article that gets as many slams against UT as it can possibly cram into one article.

Hey, KNS...how's that circulation? Going up or going down?

golfman1975 writes:

Adams...why not talk about the fact that we have 2 bigs on the bench...Maymon and Miller as well as Reese on the bench. You should analyze the team just a little bit more than you do. You can talk about a 3 game win streak against the Vols but what about our dominance against Florida, beating Vandy last year, playing Ky better than anyone except Indy. As the season goes on there will be more things positive to talk about. Last year we started even worse than this and came on strong. I heard Ball St needs a writer for their student news paper.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Adams...why not talk about the fact that we have 2 bigs on the bench...Maymon and Miller as well as Reese on the bench. You should analyze the team just a little bit more than you do. You can talk about a 3 game win streak against the Vols but what about our dominance against Florida, beating Vandy last year, playing Ky better than anyone except Indy. As the season goes on there will be more things positive to talk about. Last year we started even worse than this and came on strong. I heard Ball St needs a writer for their student news paper.

Ball State? Oops! That one is gone; filled by a high school freshman from nearby. Was told they previewed a few KNS articles before their decision.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

The obvious problem at UT is guard play or lack there of. McCrae and Richardson are wings. UT has no point guard, Golden (although hurt) was like and old lady chasing a thief trying to keep up with Jackson and McBee was completely out of his league last night. CCM needs to recruit better with guards that are athletic,offensively skilled and quick. Hubbs is coming, but Memphis has 4 guards (Jackson, Johnson, Crawford & Barton) that would start at UT. If UT is playing Memphis next season it could get ugly again as Memphis has a stellar recruiting class coming in.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

The obvious problem at UT is guard play or lack there of. McCrae and Richardson are wings. UT has no point guard, Golden (although hurt) was like and old lady chasing a thief trying to keep up with Jackson and McBee was completely out of his league last night. CCM needs to recruit better with guards that are athletic,offensively skilled and quick. Hubbs is coming, but Memphis has 4 guards (Jackson, Johnson, Crawford & Barton) that would start at UT. If UT is playing Memphis next season it could get ugly again as Memphis has a stellar recruiting class coming in.

If you read this article and didn't know what score was, you would think they lost by 50...amazing, the score was 85-80.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

If you read this article and didn't know what score was, you would think they lost by 50...amazing, the score was 85-80.

Great comeback, but efforts like that usually leaves a team short.

HarveyDent writes:

The vols play rocky top league ball? you've got to be kidding me. Im sure you are basing that off of one play because we sure as hell dont score enough to compare this team to a league that is supposed to showcase offense. And someone agreed with you! Hilarious.

Uninformed agreeing with the uninformed. Who woulda thunk it?

golfman1975 writes:

in response to vut5686#1405392:

Ball State? Oops! That one is gone; filled by a high school freshman from nearby. Was told they previewed a few KNS articles before their decision.

Bad for JA...I suppose they were looking for someone with talent....
. .
/
--

golfman1975 writes:

UConn got beat by the Irish today. That makes 5 of the last 6. Speaking of the wrong direction. Geno never went to a zone to slow the Irish. Great coaching job.

jzcrisp writes:

in response to HarveyDent:

Of course Memphis doesnt want to continue the series. Despite having the all time better program we lead the series 14-11 or 12 now. And this game was very winnable. A missed dunk here and a goal tending that should have been called and we win that game. But unfortunately Memphis had the hot hand and even their circus shots were going in and they had several players shoot well above their season average from behind the arc. If I was a Memphis fan I would still be disappointed with the outcome. They have the talent to be a top 5 team in the country but their coaching will keep them a marginal top 25 team. Thank god Pastner is no Calipari. BTW while waiting on the buses to the AG campus my aunt walked by and I considered letting her keep going because she is a Tiger High fan but then I saw she had her mother and father with her so I decided to do the right thing and let them cut in line.

A truly classless post!

jzcrisp writes:

Memphis is truly the better program right now. The Vols must develop a plan for the talent drought in all men's programs. Recruiting has been poor for too long and I fear that the game Friday night closed the door effectively to the quality Memphis recruits in the forseeable future. As Memphis moves to the Big East no matter the issues with that league... Their recruiting will improve...if that is possible considering the rankings of recent classes there. What's our plan? Do we have one?... Or will Stokes be the end of the Memphis connection?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jzcrisp:

A truly classless post!

"Classless"? Are you sure you replied to the right post? OF COURSE Memphis played better than they have all season up to Friday night. How could you consider that a knock? Even Memphis fans have said that the team had underachieved in the early going. Maybe this will set them off on a long winning streak, not that I really care. I care much more about the heart the Vols showed in coming back from an abysmal first half and the growth of McRae and Richardson as bona-fide offensive threats. Now if the Vols can just get Golden healthy, and maybe Miller and Reese, they could still have a decent season. McBee, Hall, and Miller are the only ones not coming back next year if, as expected, Maymon is redshirted, and with Hubbs coming in, the Vols could be awesome next year. No way Stokes is going pro after this year unless he just explodes in the conference season.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jzcrisp:

Memphis is truly the better program right now. The Vols must develop a plan for the talent drought in all men's programs. Recruiting has been poor for too long and I fear that the game Friday night closed the door effectively to the quality Memphis recruits in the forseeable future. As Memphis moves to the Big East no matter the issues with that league... Their recruiting will improve...if that is possible considering the rankings of recent classes there. What's our plan? Do we have one?... Or will Stokes be the end of the Memphis connection?

Don't you remember how everybody was putting down Richardson when he was first signed and even last year? Hasn't he developed into a pretty darned useful player? Lots of pretty good teams would like to have Yemi Makanjuola as a backup center, and with as little previous experience as he has had, he is only going to get better. No, they haven't recruited any instant superstars yet, but it is way too early to totally dismiss the possible contributions of the ones they have signed. Martin is a program coach, not a "talent" coach. This is a slower way to build a program but a sounder way in the long run. Give him a chance!

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