Dr. Chris Klenck, UT's team physician, has been quoted as saying that the 6-7, 230-pounder "will return to competition as soon as his condition allows."
Duke Crews, who had been Tennessee's starting center the previous two games, sat out Saturday night's 88-82 defeat of Western Kentucky in Nashville. In his absence, freshman reserve Brian Williams picked up the slack by contributing 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Prior to the game, Pearl took steps to inform and calm his players regarding their sidelined teammate.
"All I did was say, 'Look, fellows, we've got to treat this like an injury. You've just got to look at this like it's an injury,'" Pearl said on his post-game show. "The problem is, it's a vital organ as it relates to life, not just playing the game of basketball."
Crews will visit heart specialists in Atlanta for further testing and analysis as the University seeks to ensure the best course of action.
As Pearl noted: "We're hopeful that through medication, through treatment, through some more testing ... we can strengthen the heart muscle so that – first of all – Duke can have a healthier heart so that he's going to be able to live a normal life AND have a healthier heart so that he's going to be able to come back and play basketball."
Originally from Hampton, Va., Crews' remarkable passion and energy helped make him a coveted prospect coming out of high school. Now that passion for the game must be curbed for the foreseeable future.
"People say, 'Put it in perspective,' and I understand that very, very much," Pearl said. "But you can't put that in perspective for a 19-year-old young man who has given so much of his life to basketball."
Although Crews could not play Saturday night, he cheered and encouraged his replacements, Williams and Wayne Chism, from the Vol bench.
"He's been real positive," Pearl said. "He did a wonderful job with Brian and with Wayne – talking with them on the bench."
The Vol coach took Williams and Chism aside before the game and reminded them that they had to replace the intensity and ruggedness lost by Crews' absence.
As Pearl recalled: "I pulled our big guys together and said, 'Now what does Duke bring? Duke brings us toughness, he brings us a swagger. He's an intimidating presence. We've got to man up.'
"For the most part, I thought we did."