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Rick Barnes takes a subtle jab at Memphis coach Penny Hardaway

Barnes couldn’t resist.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Late in the second half of Tennessee’s win at Memphis on Saturday, things began to get a little bit chippy. It was only natural after spending the previous two hours beating the absolute hell out of each other on the court.

Jordan Bone and Alex Lomax could be seen jawing at each other with under a minute to play. The conversation prompted Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway to step in and separate the two. Grant Williams could be seen coming over to pull Admiral Schofield away from the situation.

It quickly diffused. Everyone went their separate ways and Bone and Lomax were given technical fouls. But Hardaway took things to a different level after the game, saying Tennessee came over “with their fists balled” ready to fight.

“I said [to referees], ‘The entire Tennessee team ran over to fight,’” said Hardaway, “Their entire team emptied the bench to run over. They didn’t come over because it was a timeout.

”You could visibly see guys with their fists balled, talking trash to our guys. It was almost like a standoff. I was asking the referee why they were able to come across the line into our area and not get a technical.” (Quote via ESPN)

Hardaway also took up for Lomax, saying he’s not the type to talk trash.

“Alex is a kid that is not going to talk trash,” Hardaway said. “Obviously, Jordan Bone said something to him disrespectfully. He protected himself by saying something back. Jeremiah jumped in and said something to Jordan Bone. The referee teched Jeremiah up.” (Quote via ESPN)

As the following video shows, Lomax pretty clearly isn’t innocent in this situation.

All of Hardaway’s comments following the game came off pretty soft. Frankly, his team — in all likelihood the least talented one he’ll ever have — hung in respectably with one of the best in the country. Instead of focusing on that accomplishment, Penny chose to stretch the truth and whine about a meaningless exchange that occurred after the game had already been decided.

Hardaway and Barnes shared a pretty icy handshake after the game. Barnes then responded to his comments on Vol Calls Monday night.

Subtle, yet effective. Welcome to the new era of the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry.