Near the end of what was a competitive game Saturday between the two programs that resulted in a 102-92 win for the Volunteers, a scuffle broke out that resulted in double technicals for UT's Jordan Bone and Memphis' Alex Lomax. After the game, Hardaway took exception to the incident by saying Vols players came over "with their firsts balled, talking trash to our guys."
It spurred what has been a he-said, he-said back and forth that snowballed Monday when Hardaway, again taking exception -- this time to UT coach Rick Barnes, who poked fun at Hardaway's implication that UT players had their fists balled up -- unloaded on Barnes and called his comments "low class," according to the Commercial Appeal.
"Rick Barnes, get the f--- out of here," Hardaway said, while defending his previous assertion about Tennessee players during the Saturday scuffle.
"Honestly, if you just watch the film I'm not making anything up," Hardaway said. "We even had it on the phone. I don't know who Rick Barnes thinks I am, but I'm not a dude that's going 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."
Hardaway and Barnes are recruiting the same state and are building power programs in the same region, so it's understandable -- and maybe a little expected -- that this little kerfuffle has blown up into something. Penny, for his thoughts, believes that's exactly what caused this all.
"I think it's more something that on the page or maybe the recruiting that we have to do in the state," said Hardaway. "Maybe he wants to get the upper hand on me or whatever. … I have no complaints about anything else, I just called it like I saw it and the comments that he made about my team when it comes to the flopping and all that: That's low class. I would never do that to another team."