"I think the reason is we've had a couple of last-possession miracles," Pearl said.
The Vol coach has a point. Fate has smiled on the Vols in their recent meetings with the Gators.
- With the 2006 meeting at Knoxville tied 76-76 in the final half-minute, UT's Chris Lofton foiled a 2-on-1 Florida fast break with a nifty interception, then heaved a long pass to Dane Bradshaw for a tie-breaking layup. Tennessee won 80-76.
- Tied 72-72 with 18 seconds left in the 2006 rematch at Gainesville, Florida appeared to be in great shape with the ball out of bounds at side-midcourt. Tennessee deflected the inbounds pass, however, then Bradshaw scooped up the loose ball and drove for the go-ahead bucket. Tennessee won that one 76-72.
- Florida shot 67.9 percent (19 of 28) from the field en route to a 55-42 first-half lead in the 2008 meeting at Gainesville. Incredibly, Tennessee came back from the dead to prevail 89-86.
Pearl correctly surmised that his head-to-head record vs. Donovan would look a lot different "if you take out the one where we steal the ball on the sideline out of bounds, then you take out the game at home when we actually get a bad shot and they're coming down (2 on 1) to put the game away and Lofton steals one, then last year at Florida when we were down big.
"If you take those away it's 50-50."
Actually, if those three squeakers had gone the other way, Donovan would hold a 4-3 edge.
As Pearl noted: "We've won a few games that were historical for Tennessee basketball."
And, as a result, UT's head man has an astounding 6-1 record against Florida's head man.