Physically whipped

The Tennessee Vols were physically whipped in Saturday's 73-69 loss to Arkansas, as the Razorbacks' 45-24 rebound advantage clearly indicates. You can make a pretty good case, though, that the Vols were physically whipped even before the game began.

Last Wednesday night's dramatic 76-72 win at Florida clinched the SEC East title and clearly drained the Vols emotionally. Senior point guard C.J. Watson says the toll that game took was even more physical than emotional, however.

"I think it was more physical," he said. "We were beat up. It was a long, tough, hard-fought win, and it really got to us."

Officials contributed to the physical nature of Wednesday night's game by calling just two first-half fouls on Florida. Thanks to the "let ‘em play" approach, both teams took a pounding that night.

Following the game at Gainesville, the Vols flew back to Knoxville in the wee hours of Thursday morning with roughly 48 hours to rest before Saturday's 1 p.m. tip-off against Arkansas. Conversely, the Hogs played a Tuesday night home game last week and had 3 1/2 days to recharge their batteries before facing the Vols.

UT coach Bruce Pearl blamed himself for the loss to Arkansas, saying he didn't give his starters enough rest to keep them fresh for the game's stretch run. Junior forward Dane Bradshaw disputes that idea.

"I don't think that was the case because both teams are going to be tired," he said. "It was just a matter of them (Razorbacks) maybe wanting it more than us. That's on us as players on the court."

Regardless, Tennessee has played three physically taxing games in a row – losing at Alabama, winning at Florida and losing at home to Arkansas. This would be a great time to have one of the SEC's weak sisters show up on the schedule. That isn't the case, though.

The Vols face another physical opponent this Wednesday night, when a hard-nosed and defensive-minded Kentucky squad comes to town.


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