Upsets are rare

Tennessee's 95-78 trouncing of No. 6 Texas Saturday in Austin underscores one of basketball's great truths: Nothing is much sweeter than an upset victory.

And, at Tennessee, nothing is much RARER than an upset victory.

For the past two decades you could pretty much scan the opponent's roster and know if the Big Orange had a chance to win or not. If the foe had a national ranking, the Vols almost always lost.

Buzz Peterson (2001-05) coached 33 games against teams ranked in the national top 25 during his four-year tenure at Tennessee, winning just nine times. He was 3-13 against foes ranked in the top 10, beating No, 8 Syracuse 66-62 and No. 6 Kentucky 76-74 in 2001-02 and beating No. 4 Florida 66-59 in 2002-03. All three games were played in Knoxville.

Wade Houston (1989-94), like Peterson, coached 33 games against ranked opponents. He also went 9-24. Houston was 4-9 against teams ranked in the top 10. The wins came against No. 8 Kentucky (107-85) and No. 5 Arkansas (83-81), in 1991-92, No. 8 Memphis State (70-59) in 1992-93 and No. 2 Kentucky (78-77) in 1993-94 – all in Knoxville.

Kevin O'Neill (1994-97) coached 14 games against ranked foes in his three-year tenure, winning once. He was 0-8 against top-10 opponents.

Jerry Green (1997-2001), blessed with arguably the best talent in school history, went 19-11 in his first 30 games against ranked foes, then lost five in a row to finish at 19-16. Tennessee was ranked even higher than its foe in 14 of those games, winning eight of them. The Vols upset a higher-ranked team 11 times in 21 meetings. Oddly enough, Green coached just five games in five years against top-10 opponents, winning three. The scores were 47-46 at No. 6 Kentucky (1998-99), 81-79 at No. 9 Florida and 105-76 over Auburn (1999-2000).

Clearly, big wins against favored foes don't come along very often. That's one more reason to savor Saturday's trouncing of Texas.


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