Shorthanded? No. 16 Tennessee Stuns Top-Ranked Kansas

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Bloggers Reacts To Tennessee's 76-68 Upset Of No. 1 Kansas

Kansas tempted fate on Wednesday narrowly escaping a pesky Cornell team at home. On Sunday, they weren’t so lucky. Kansas blog Rock Chalk Talk says the Tennessee loss exposed the lack of times the Jayhawks had been truly tested so far this season.

By no fault of there own the Jayhawks didn’t find themselves tested too often early this season. Memphis was tricky, but not what they were expected to be when scheduled. UCLA is in full blown rebuilding mode. Michigan and Cal failed to live up to their preseason rankings and as a result Kansas had four potential tests turn into fairly simple victories. With those games living up to the expectation, Kansas likely finds it’s weakpoints much earlier and perhaps even drops a game much sooner. As it stands now, Kansas was finally exposed this week with Cornell and Tennessee. Now Head Coach Bill Self begins the process.

  1. talk is over for now, the label is gone and a group has been humbled. At the same time expectations are still high, a conference title, a final four and a national title are all still very much in play. However Kansas is now just a team like any other. Beatable, battling, looking to improve and starting it’s long tough grind in what promises to be a challenging final two and a half months of the season.

Meanwhile, UT blog Rocky Top Talk isn’t quite sure how Bruce Pearl motivated his collection of 2nd-tier Vols to defeat the No. 1 team in the nation, but they’re excited for what it means.

Before the January 1st gun/drug incident involving Tyler Smith and three other Volunteer players (#thuglife), Skylar McBee, Kenny Hall, Josh Bone and Steven Pearl saw a combined 35-minutes of floor-time per game. But today, while entertaining #1 Kansas in Knoxville, the four reserves ran around Pat Summitt court for a total of 68 minutes. What’s more, it was McBee, a freshman walk-on, who secured victory for the shorthanded Vols over the all-world Jayhawks by nailing a three pointer with under 50 seconds to play. Despite having only six scholarship players in uniform, the other UT shocked us all winning 76-68. Suddenly there’s something special brewing down in Knoxville.

Just what did Bruce Pearl tell/feed/frighten his team with that has them playing more fluid and cooperatively (33 assists in the last two games!) since moving on without 32 percent of their offense? Is it simply a case of weeding out the rift-raft? Heck, was Bruce Peal inept at determining the best rotation for his team before the aforementioned suspensions? It’s a crazy question to make, but worth suggesting.

Finally, SbN’s college basketball blog Searching for Billy Edelin is fascinated to watch this Tennessee team hit its potential after seemingly lost every player that could have made that capable.

What a fantastic game for this Tennessee team. After winning at Memphis on New Year’s Eve, it seemed like the team could be destined for greatness, and then poof it went at 11:30 on New Year’s Day when Tyler Smith, Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum, and Melvin Goins tarnished the reputation of the program and forced fans to recalibrate their expectations for the season. A solid effort against Charlotte could have been the team just rallying and besting an inferior opponent, but this win against the #1 team in the nation proves that the team has both heart and talent and that the season might not be a waste after all. In fact, it almost seems like we might be better off somehow.

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VIDEO: Tennessee Stuns No. 1 Kansas

Six. That’s how many scholarship players coach Bruce Pearl and Tennessee could dress against Kansas this afternoon. Following suspensions of four Vols—including leading scorer Tyler Smith, who was kicked off the team—this weekend’s game against Kansas was supposed to be a symbol for the downfall of Tennessee hoops.

A date with the number one Kansas Jayhawks, with a shorthanded team, and the Vols were all but assured of a blowout loss at home. Except, that’s not how it played out. Senior Bobby Maze played the game of his life, and had 16 points to help pick up the slack, and the Vols competed from start to finish with the Jayhawks. They led for most of the second half, while KU scrambled to stay within striking distance.

Then, with Kansas down just three and the shot clock running down as Vols tried to hold on, walk-on freshman guard Skylar Mcbee hit this shot to seal the deal:

That shot sums up everything. The Vols weren’t supposed to compete today, but with a little luck and some unlikely contributors, everything fell just right, and David beat Goliath. Skylar McBee and the Vols may not win the SEC or even make the tournament without the players they lost.

But today, at least, they were perfect.

(HT: Chris Littmann for the video)

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