Orange ties please!

First, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl brought back the gaudy orange jacket worn by predecessor Ray Mears. Now he's bringing back Mears' Orange Tie Club … at least for a day.

Pearl is asking that male fans wear orange ties to today's game with Arkansas (1 p.m. tip-off at Thompson-Boling Arena) as a tribute to the Big Orange basketball tradition. Fans also are encouraged to wear orange suspenders, as UT's coach does.

at McMillins on the strip (just before the walk-over bridge)

Pearl is making a determined effort to bridge the gap between UT and its basketball past. That's why he brought back the orange jacket and the Orange Tie Club. That's why he has invited former Vol standouts such as Allan Houston and Dale Ellis to attend today's game. That's why orange T-shirts will be given away to lower-deck ticket holders attending Wednesday night's home finale against Kentucky.

"We're going to have a lot of history and tradition going on with the Arkansas and Kentucky games coming up," Pearl says.

Although he is dedicated to preserving UT's hoops past, Pearl also is looking to solidify UT's hoops present. That's why he hopes his team (20-4 overall, 11-2 SEC) can give one of its best efforts today against an Arkansas team that is 18-8 overall, 7-6 in SEC play and coming off big wins over Florida and Alabama.

Led by 6-7 junior superstar Ronnie Brewer, the Razorbacks are an athletic team with lots of weapons. And they're motivated by their quest for an NCAA Tournament bid.

"They're as talented as anybody in the country," Pearl says. "They've got three NBA players out there. We're going to have to find a way (to match up).

"Tempo is going to be a key factor for us. They're playing well right now. They've beaten Florida and Alabama and, all of a sudden, they've played themselves right back off the (NCAA) bubble."

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