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Jumping Thru Hoops: Vols See Same Ol' Vandy, Brand New Buckeyes

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Oooh, logo. Hey, it only took a little more than a month to do another one of these; that's progress, baby!

Inane Basketball Commentary
In the first two weeks of conference play, Tennessee has seen and beaten the two teams most likely to challenge them for SEC supremacy (Ole Miss and Vandy). They've done it without Chris Lofton looking like the Discombobulator he was last year. They've done it while breaking in new faces in new places. They've done without chemistry being a deterrent, despite going 9 or 10 deep and rotating lineups. In fact, chemistry seems to be great with this bunch -- perhaps because this team plays so fast, everybody gets their touches?

But that's the good news. The bad news, if you want to look for some, is that SEC play is a long road. What if the chemistry sours? What if egos start popping up? What will happen when this team goes to Rupp and Memorial and the O-Dome and the Hump? There are a lot of challenges ahead of this squad, and how they hold together through those challenges over the next few weeks will tell a lot about them.

As for right now, I'm still enjoying Thursday's beatdown of Vanderbilt and looking forward to Saturday's game against Ohio State, in part because I'm going (it will be my only trip to Thompson-Boling this year) and in part because I want avengement for last year's losses to the Bucks. For anybody lucky enough to have forgotten, last March's loss to Ohio State ended something like this:

And even though this isn't the Greg Oden-Mike Conley version of tOSU, maybe the chance to see scarlet and gray will help these guys Remember the Alomodome.

Prediction vs. Reality
Measuring how the Vols have fared in the last five games against how some really smart computers (Sagarin, Pomeroy) thought they'd do, and what the really smart computers think about the next five. Chartage:

Overachiving. mostly, and predicted wins in the next five games (at this point, the only team Tennessee won't be favored against is Memphis). Good things, no?

Bruce Pearl's Guide to Style
With Thursday's beatdown of Vandy, Bruce Pearl is now 6-3 in the Orange Blazer.

Yes, coach, that's six wins.

Discombobulation Watch and Fancy New Blender
We've been waiting all year for a Discombobulatory performance from Chris Lofton, and although he hasn't reached that level yet this season, we do have another nickname torch that has been passed on.

During Thursday night's beatdown of Vandy (I just like typing that), ESPN's Jimmy Dykes labeled Tyler Smith as Tennessee's "blender" as the one who shakes things up and makes it come out smooth -- the same title he gave to Dane Bradshaw a year ago. There were many other comparisons between Bradshaw and Tyler throughout the game, and I can see it, though T. Smith is way more talented (and I don't mean that as a slight on Dane).

So, yeah, from now on, Tyler Smith is our fancy new orange blender, like the one pictured at right. BTW, I totally want one of those.

If you're a fan of the circus, you may want to check out the post-beatdown varying levels of dismay over at Vanderbilt Sports Line, I'm pretty sure all the stages of grief are in the comments there ... The BruceBall Blog points out UT's defensive efficiency, including how the Vols held the SEC's second-highest scoring team to just 60 points ... tOSU previews at The O-Zone and College Hoops Net, also use this Google search link for more as the game approaches ... last but not least, Go Vols!