By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
In what is arguably their biggest out-of-conference game of the season, the (19) Tennessee Volunteers welcomed their in-state rival from the West into Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday as they took on the (13) Memphis Tigers in the second game of a home-home-neutral series and put the nation's longest active home winning streak (31 games) on the line.
After multiple lead changes and some big plays down the stretch, Memphis overcame Tennessee in Knoxville 51-47.
The teams had only met 26 times prior to Saturday's game, with Tennessee controlling the all-time series 15-11. This was only the second time in the history of the series that both teams were ranked in the top-25. In 2008, Bruce Pearl's (2) Tennessee squad upended John Calipari's (1) Memphis team to climb to the No.1 ranking for the first time in program history.
Last season, the Vols took a 10-point victory from their match up with the Tigers 102-92. The game was not without controversy. After the game, then first-year Memphis coach Penny Hardaway had some choice words for Tennessee coach Rick Barnes.
When asked if he regretted his remarks after a scuffle at the end of the game, he said, "No, come on man, honestly, if you just watch the film, I’m not making anything up. We even had it on the phone. I don’t know who Rick Barnes thinks I am but I’m not a dude that likes to mess around about anything."
"I just call it like I see it. No matter how he’s trying to make things seem, and I think it's kind of low class how he’s trying to downgrade my guys for flopping and all that. Man, come on, give me a break."
“As a coach you’re going to try to teach charges, you’re going to try to teach to be smart. We were smaller. They played a physical game, and we knew that and the calls just didn’t go our way. As far as flopping, that’s not something that we teach. We don’t even understand that term but he seems to be focusing on the wrong thing, man. He’s blessed to have the No. 3 team in the country and he should be happy with that. And we will see each other again, for sure.”
He concluded the interview by saying, "Rick Barnes, get the (expletive) out of here."
Hardaway's Tigers got their crack at the Vols on Saturday.
The game started with a three point basket by Josiah James to get things started for the Vols. The Tigers then scored the next four straight points to take an early lead at 4-3.
The Vols answered with a quick 2-point basket, again by James. Memphis connected on a free throw to tie the game at five points each, before James connected on a shot from deep to give the Vols an 8-5 advantage.
With an opportunity to extend their lead and capitalize off of a steal, Jordan Bowden and James passed the ball back-and-forth all the way up the floor, capped off by a missed dunk by James.
Each team continued sloppy offensive play for the following minutes. The Tigers opened 1-of-7 from the field with five turnovers in the first six minutes of play.
John Fulkerson added a 2-point basket to extend the Volunteer's lead to 10-5 with just under twelve and a half minutes remaining in the half. Memphis turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, followed by a turnover from Tennessee.
Each team seemed to struggle to find their offensive rhythm early in the game.
Tennessee held the 10-5 lead for a few minutes of game time before a pair of Tennessee free throws extended the Vols' run to 7-0, allowing them to hold a 12-5 lead.
On the ensuing possession, James connected on his third three point basket of the game, extending the Tennessee lead to it's largest of the game at 10 points, 15-5. James scored 11 of Tennessee's first 15 points.
With 8:48 remaining in the half, a Memphis foul put the Vols into the bonus, allowing LaMonte Turner to step to the charity stripe for two points, increasing the lead to 17-5.
Memphis halted the 12-0 run with a lay-up with just under eight minutes remaining. After a pair of missed three pointers, Memphis' Tyler Harris connected on a three pointer of his own to decrease the Vols' lead to 17-10 with six minutes remaining.
Fulkerson continued to provide a valuable presence down low, adding another 2-point basket at the shot clock buzzer to go up 19-10. Memphis answered with a quick jump shot to battle back to within seven at 19-12.
Drew Pember provided Tennessee with big minutes, adding a 2-point basket to extend the Tennessee lead to 21-13. Memphis answered with an emphatic dunk to bring the score to 21-15 with four minutes remaining.
Memphis chipped the Tennessee lead to just four points at 21-17 with under four minutes left, after going on a 4-0 run. On the ensuing possession, James was called for an offensive foul, granting Memphis possession.
Memphis closed out the half on a 12-3 run, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game since they led 4-3 early in the game with a buzzer-beating go-ahead layup from Harris.
To begin the second half, Yves Pons rejected a Memphis players shot with an emphatic block at the rim, followed by a transition layup from Bowden to give Tennessee the lead back at 26-25.
Memphis wasted no time in regaining the lead at 27-26 on a layup from Boogie Ellis on the ensuing possession for the Tigers.
Turner continued to struggle for Tennessee. He notched his third point of the game from the charity stripe early in the second half, tying the game at 27-27.
The teams traded the lead for the following minutes, until Harris connected on a three for Memphis, giving the Tigers a 34-31 lead. Pons added a basket for Tennessee to keep it at a one-point margin.
Memphis connected on another three on their following possession, extending their lead to 37-33, their largest of the game to that point.
The Memphis lead climbed to 38-34 before a big rebound by Fulkerson and a three pointer from Bowden brought Tennessee back o within one point, igniting Thompson-Boling Arena.
Memphis answered with a jump shot, followed by another jumper from Pons, bringing the game to 40-39 in favor of the Tigers.
Alex Lomax drove to the rim for a scoop-and-score for the Tigers, giving them a 42-39 advantage. Fulkerson connected on a layup and was fouled, but missed the following free throw, allowing Memphis to hold a one point 42-41 lead.
Tennessee regained the lead at 43-42 on a cut to the basket and spin move jump shot by Pons. On the ensuing possession, Fulkerson blocked D.J. Jeffries at the rim for his second block in as many defensive possessions.
With 3:48 remaining, Fulkerson connected on a pair of free throws, giving Tennessee a 45-44 lead. On the following play, Jeffries flushed an alley-oop dunk to give the Tigers the lead back at 46-45 with 2:45 remaining in the game.
With 2:15 remaining, Turner connected on his first field goal of the game, giving his Vols a 47-46 lead.
On their following possession, Damion Baugh connected on a three pointer for Memphis, giving them a 49-47 advantage with under two minutes remaining. Turner missed a three pointer on Tennessee's ensuing offensive possession.
With 1:06 remaining in the game, Hardaway elected to take a timeout to get his team settled down as they held a slim advantage with little time remaining in the game.
With 21 seconds remaining, Yves Pons was fouled on an offensive rebound, sending him to the free throw line for the front end of a 1-and-1. He missed the free throw, Memphis rebounded.
Tennessee fouled Memphis in order to preserve precious time on the clock trailing by two points with 18.4 seconds remaining.
With 7.9 seconds left Lomax stepped to the charity stripe and connected on both free throws, allowing Memphis to close the game.
With the loss, Tennessee moves to 7-2 on the season. With the victory, Memphis improves to 9-1.
Also with the loss, Tennessee's home winning streak of 31-games, the nation's longest, was snapped. The Vols will take on the Tigers in Nashville next season.