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Pot, Meet Kettle

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on February 21, 2008

 

A while back, I wrote on this website how it felt to be a Tennessean since Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Memphis were ranked in the top 25 and as of this writing, are all still ranked in the polls.

But while in my basic lifetime, Vanderbilt and Memphis never met that much on the hardwood, the last time I think the two teams met was either 1993 or 1998, the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry in basketball has a different meaning.

For many years, Memphis and Vanderbilt were the basketball schools in this state, especially in the last 30 years as both the Commodores and Tigers have won multiple conference championships, participated in numerous postseason tournaments and, well, made basketball the thing do after their schools tank their football seasons.

The Vols, on the other hand, have not had anywhere near the success that the Commodores and Tigers have had in the last 30 years.

Since Ray Mears left Knoxville in 1979, the Vols have two overall SEC Championships.

There’s been a multitude of coaches that had tried before Bruce Pearl to get Tennessee basketball back to the level that Mears had it, namely Wade Houston, Kevin O’Neil, Jerry Green, and Buzz Peterson — guys who coached in Knoxville during my lifetime.

And they all failed.

Enter Bruce Pearl.

This week, Tennessee will come to Memphis with their highest ranking ever, #2 in this week’s polls, and a chance to put a dent in what is quickly turning into one special season here in town.

Of course, they’re going to have Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Wayne Chism along for the ride and of course, there’s going to be a multitude of orange-clad fans invading the FedEx Forum for the biggest regular-season game in school history.

Before Tennessee gets revved up for the Tigers, they first have to take care of Auburn, who gave Kentucky a scare a couple of weeks ago in Auburn and could very well be a trap game for the Vols leading up to Saturday.

And given the depth chart of Auburn’s team, which looks like an NAIA roster, that shouldn’t be a problem for the Vols.

But as a team here in Memphis learned on Saturday in Batesville, Arkansas, what might look like an easy win isn’t.

You’re just another team to them.

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One Response to “Pot, Meet Kettle”

  1. Matt said

    (Note: this article was written BEFORE last nights game but was scheduled in the queue for this morning…)

    Well Memphis and Tennessee survived their trap game with relative ease last night so the Memphis/Tennessee match up has as much riding on it as possible. This may very well be the game of the year in college basketball this season.

    Another home run column, Doc. You’ve brought it once again.

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