Pearl requests restraint

Vol basketball coach Bruce Pearl wasn't surprised that the SEC fined Tennessee $5,000 because fans spilled onto the court to celebrate Saturday's 80-76 upset of Florida. He wasn't upset, either. He just hopes it won't happen again.

SEC regulations mandate a $5,000 fine when the home fans invade the playing surface at a league sporting event, so Pearl knew the penalty was coming. He just hopes UT supporters will show more restraint in the future.

"We've got a chance to be in the top 10 in attendance, so we've got to be able to learn how to handle it, with our crowd control and understand the responsibility we have to the safety of our guest," Pearl said. "We're going to compete. We're going to play hard. We're going to do everything we can to win but we've got to be very cognizant of that (crowd-control issue)."

A whopping 24,011 fans showed up Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, creating a decibel and excitement level rarely seen at a UT basketball game during the past 20 years.

Pearl praised what he called "an amazing atmosphere," but quickly noted that the court-storming incident at game's end is something "we can't have happen for the safety of the opponent."

The coach emphasized that he appreciates the support and zeal of Tennessee's backers, noting: "I'm not at all unhappy with our fans or upset with the students. I share their enthusiasm. But we did it this one time. Let's not do it again."

If fans do storm the court again, the fine could reach $25,000. If they do so a third time, the cost could jump to $50,000.

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