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Bruce Pearl is a fantastic coach, but yikes, I hope he knows what he's doing here:

test tubes
What happens if we mix this with that?
Photo credit: Lapor
JP's going to play point guard throughout the tournament. I'm committed to it. And Ramar Smith or Jordan Howell will play next to him. It's a little late to do it. We did it against Kentucky, and I got away from it with Florida. But Jordan and Ramar no longer will get 40 minutes (combined) at the point.

It's a position that we've not played well enough at. There's 40 minutes, and we're trying to play this tournament to advance. We need better play at the position to advance. If this decision doesn't work, so be it. I've got to get my best players on the floor. J.P. Prince deserves to be on the floor more than 10 minutes. We did it after we lost to Vanderbilt. I just didn't stay with it.

. . . .

As a coach, when I get done with the Arkansas game and I'm looking at J.P. Prince playing 10 minutes, I've got to do something. I've got to do something, and he's playing behind Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith. There's only 16 minutes there. And Josh Tabb is playing well defensively. I've got confidence in Josh. So that took, say, eight minutes away too. I decided I was going to play Josh Tabb, and either not play Jordan or Ramar as much. I just don't think they've played well enough to win a championship.

So Ramar Smith's absence during the first half of today's game against American was not due to a suspension or anything. It really was a "coach's decision."

But wow, did it work today? Sure, we won, but did we play well? Do you really fiddle with chemistry 30 games into the season, just when the team is beginning tournament play?

Of course you do, if you're Bruce Pearl and you think it's best. If this pays off, Pearl's standing in the eyes of Tennessee fans increases even above its already lofty height. If it doesn't, he may experience the first real criticism of his tenure. My guess, though, is that it will pay off. This is Pearl we're talking about.