Vols vs Memphis Round Two Saturday on Rocky Top


It’s the rematch Vols basketball fans have been anticipating.
The in-state schools renewed their rivalry last year for the first time since 2013, and wouldn’t you know it, bad blood ensued.
Or at least the appearance of bad blood.
A verbal exchange had Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway claiming there were fists balled up by Tennessee players, although it’s difficult to see.

When the players exchanged words near the end of last year’s game, it ignited post-game words from Penny Hardaway.
Said Hardaway in 2018:”I just told the referee that the player ran over there. The guy that was on the bench. Ran over to our side. He balled his fist up and asked our guys pretty much like what was up like he wanted to fight.”
When Rick Barnes made fun of that accusation, let’s just say Hardaway wasn’t laughing.
Said Hardaway in 2018:”I don’t know who Rick Barnes thinks I am. I’m not a dude who just likes to mess around about anything. I call it like I see it. No matter how he is trying to make things seem.”
But with the rematch looming tomorrow, of course now it’s all kumbaya.
Said Hardaway today:”Last year’s game was last year’s game. You know I’ve always had a lot of respect for Coach Barnes. I just protected my team last year.”
Said Barnes:”I just think people try to make something out of nothing. I mean I’ve got great respect for what he has done. I know what he means to Memphis, and the program he has built there.”
While the coaches are down-playing last year’s incident, Big Orange fans likely won’t forget about it inside of Thompson Boling Arena.
Said Hardaway:”Because it’s a rivalry game. (chuckles) In-state game, and what happened last year as well. They’re going to be ready.”
Said Barnes:”But it should be a fun time. It’ll be a great atmosphere. I think it’s great for college basketball. It’s great for this state.”
The Vols have won 31 straight at home.
Memphis will have to try and snap that streak without 7-foot-freshman phenom James Wiseman, who is still suspended for violating NCAA rules.
Said Barnes:”They’re definitely a different team because you’ve got a guy of that caliber. I don’t think they have missed a beat in terms of what they want to do.”
Said Hardaway:”It was like they were more settled last year. This year they’re trying to find themselves. They’re trying to find this group’s identity.”

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.