That challenge was painfully evident near the end of Monday's practice. Stanley Asumnu had to leave early for a late afternoon class. With JaJuan Smith sidelined by a hip pointer and Andre Patterson relegated to the scout squad by a disciplinary suspension, the already short-handed Vols were dangerously thin.
Howell played just 116 minutes all of last season, shot 24.1 percent from the floor and averaged 1.1 points per game. DeBro, a 5-11, 190-pound senior walk-on, saw seven minutes of action last season.
"Those guys did fine but that is a challenge as it relates to the kind of schedule we're playing," Pearl said. "I'm happy with Jordan Howell and Eddie DeBro because they played well."
"Dane Bradshaw will be the only college basketball player in the country who will start at power forward and be backup point guard," Pearl said, laughing at the irony. "At Southern Indiana in Div. II, I never would've had a 6-3 power forward as my backup point guard. And Southern Illinois-Edwardsville's not on the schedule."
Tennessee's depth will be a little better when Pearl lifts Patterson's suspension and allows him to rejoin the varsity next week.
"He's on the scout team right now," Pearl said. "He had a good practice Monday, his first day back. I can see him working his way off the scout team after this game and trying to get into the regular rotation.
"This team's prepared to play Southern Indiana without him. But getting him back (at practice) now puts him in position, starting next week, to get himself back into the fold."