No Texas replay

Some folks suggest that Tennessee's 76-58 defeat of Memphis on Wednesday night could provide the same type of springboard as last year's 95-78 defeat of Texas. Frankly, that's pretty convoluted logic.


- The '06 Vols were regarded as a capable team when they faced Memphis, whereas the '05 Vols were considered a pushover when they faced Texas.

- Memphis was a young team ranked No. 16 and playing on the road, whereas Texas was a veteran team ranked No. 6 and playing at home.

- Defeating Texas was NOT a springboard game. The Vols actually lost their very next game to an Oklahoma State team that did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

- Finally, the Memphis game was personal. The Tigers are a high-profile bunch who tend to look down their noses at the cross-state Vols. That's why the game featured a lot of animosity and three technical fouls.

"I think it's great for the game," said Vol forward Dane Bradshaw, a Memphis native. "When you're building a rivalry like this, you need some trash-talking out there. Unfortunately, we made a few technical fouls but, when it's all said and done, I think both teams respect each another."

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl tends to disagree. He isn't sure the Tigers respect the Vols, but he isn't going to lose any sleep over it.

"I don't worry about it," he said. "I know I respect them. I respect their program. I respect John (Calipari) and the job that he does. Certainly, you have to respect how hard our team played."

Ultimately, the main thing the '06 Memphis game and the '05 Texas game have in common is that each saw an underdog Vol team outplay a more talented, big-name opponent.

As Pearl noted when asked about the Memphis/Texas comparison: "It's all about where we go from here. It's about getting better. We've got a lot of tough games and we're not going to start reading headlines. We're very happy with our win but we've got a lot of work to do."

Junior guard Chris Lofton touched on the same theme, noting: "We've just got to stay humble and stay focused. We can't be too high right now."

Bradshaw concedes that the Memphis win was similar to the Texas win in that "it gives us some national attention," but says fans shouldn't read too much into one performance, impressive as it was.

"I still see us being a little inconsistent, just because of our youth, down the road," he said.

The bottom line is this: The Memphis game stands on its own merit, without comparisons to last year's Texas game. The Vols posted a quality win over a ranked team that significantly enhanced their chances of making the NCAA Tournament when the bids go out in March.

"Just to win against Memphis – because they're going to be ranked so highly in the NCAA Tournament – could pay us more benefits than any win on our schedule," Bradshaw said. "It's huge for us."

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