Final score: Unranked Tennessee 104, No. 21 Memphis 84
So now Bruce Pearl's suspension is on deck and his Tennessee Vols officially (if only temporarily) belong to associate head coach Tony Jones. First thing Jones should do is put a number beside Arkansas' name. Just get a schedule and grab a marker and write a number beside the Razorbacks. Anything between one and 25 will do. Something like 17 seems reasonable. So Jones should scribble 17 beside Arkansas and point to it. If the Tennessee players fall for it, they'll start SEC play with an impressive road win Saturday.
That's the lesson from Wednesday night, isn't it?
When the Vols think they're playing a good team, they win.
Otherwise, they're at risk.
Tennessee dominated Memphis early, late and at all points in between at Thompson-Boling Arena, and it really wasn't as close as the final score indicates. The Vols led by 15 at the half and by 36 with less than six minutes remaining. The game got sloppy and closer late. But it was a beatdown from start to finish, and Tennessee is now 3-0 against ranked opponents and 7-4 against unranked opponents.
The Vols own wins over No. 5 Pittsburgh, No. 7 Villanova and No. 21 Memphis, and losses to unranked Oakland, unranked Charlotte, unranked Southern California and unranked Charleston. Granted, it's possible unranked Oakland, unranked Charlotte, unranked Southern California and unranked Charleston are all better than No. 21 Memphis, and that what happened Wednesday says more about the Tigers than it does UT. But the point remains the same. The Vols were presented with a ranked opponent on a big stage for the third time this season, and they played well and won such a game for the third time this season. They still haven't lost to a ranked team, but they've four times shown they're capable of losing to pretty much any school without a number next to its name.
So if Tony Jones is smart, he'll put a number next to Arkansas.
I'd go with 17.
He should scribble it on a schedule and show it to his players.
If they fall for it, they'll cruise.
If not, who knows?