In 40 minutes, that all changed. The Bulldogs took care of Tennessee with a 78-63 victory. Since then, the Vols have not beaten a ranked opponent and are 3-4.
Pearl said after Tuesday's walk-though practice that he's expecting the unexpected with Georgia coming to town Wednesday night.
"They're a tough scout because there's a lot of good stuff that they did," he said. "The last time we played them, they had a week to get ready for us and in that game we saw a lot of things in that game we hadn't seen much from them."
Pearl said that Chism's injuries to his hip, his ankle and his knee have had a negative impact on the team as whole. With an injured player, Pearl said, the team cannot get as many in-game scenarios or get its timing exactly right.
For this reason, among others, Pearl has stressed getting junior Brian Williams back up to form. Since Williams has returned to practice, he has looked a little rusty to the head coach.
"You definitely see what a month off does," Pearl said. "Brian's lost weight. Brian's had a lot of individual workouts. Brian's worked as hard as you can work to stay ready. But it's not like you're out here at practice."
Williams has seen limited action since returning to the Vols on February 6. In two games, he has played three total minutes. Before the New Year's Day incident, Williams averaged 16.7 minutes per game.
When he received the call to return to the team, Williams described it as a "rebirth."
"I couldn't stop smiling, even when I was on the bench," he said.
Williams admits that while he has been conditioning, losing 10 pounds since his suspension, it may take awhile for him to get back into game form.
"It's different being ‘in shape' and game shape," he said. "You can work out everyday for a year and still not be ready for this type of atmosphere. I will never know what type of game shape I'm in until I play the game."
While the game notes list Bobby Maze as the probable starter at the point, Pearl has played Melvin Goins at the one with Maze at shooting guard in practice. Against Kentucky, the two combined for 29 points.
Pearl did not say whether Goins would get the start.