"It was huge," Pearl recalls. "There were so many great wins but, obviously, to coach in that building and play as well as we played (was big). Kentucky was good but we played one of our best games of the year and beat ‘em at Rupp."
Senior captain Dane Bradshaw vividly recalls how the Vols walked into Rupp Arena and underdogs and walked out as top dogs in the SEC.
"It was just a magical win for us last year, one of the highlights of the season," he says. "That's when we were hitting our peak last year and, hopefully, we can make that peak toward the end of the season this year."
Whereas the Vols were peaking at this time last year, they are staggering this year. They have lost four of their last five games – falling by one at Vanderbilt, by two at Ohio State, by three at Auburn and by 14 at Ole Miss. The only victory during this stretch was a three-point home-floor squeaker against a poor South Carolina team.
Unranked Tennessee, 14-6 overall and 2-3 in league play, desperately needs a win at No. 25 Kentucky (15-4, 4-2) to right the ship and get back in the SEC East race.
"We definitely need to get a win, get back on the right track," Bradshaw concedes. "Hopefully, we've gotten all of our tough losses out of the way."