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Barnes: Tennessee-Memphis basketball rivalry unlikely to be renewed after 2020

Gee, I wonder why.

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

We’re a little under a month away from Tennessee and Memphis meeting once again in Knoxville. This in-state rivalry game may just be the most anticipated matchup on Tennessee’s schedule this season — but will it continue?

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes doesn’t think so. He said this morning that he thinks the rivalry will be put on hold once again following next year’s game in Nashville.

Why? Well, look no further than Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway’s antics after last year’s game. Hardaway’s Tigers took the loss to Tennessee last december, but it didn’t come without some controversy.

Tennessee controlled the game for the entire afternoon, but things got chippy late. That’s where the nonsense began.

Jordan Bone and Alex Lomas had words, and a double technical foul was assessed. Tennessee’s bench came over the half-court line as tensions escalated, but both sides returned to their bench shortly after.

“The entire Tennessee team ran over to fight,” Hardaway told reporters after the game. “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.”

Bone was frustrated because of Memphis’ non-stop flopping throughout the game.

“We knew they were going to come out and flop and that’s what they did,” Bone said after the game. “The calls went their way early in the game.”

Everything was taken up a notch when Penny took offense to Barnes and Bone calling Memphis out for flopping.

“I don’t know who Rick Barnes thinks I am, but I’m not a dude that’s going to mess around about anything,” Hardaway said. “I just call it like I see it. No matter how he’s trying to make things seem, and I think it’s kind of low class how he’s trying to downgrade my guys for flopping and all that. Man, come on, give me a break.”

You can make your own call by watching this video below.

Hardaway ended that press conference by saying, “Rick Barnes... Get the F*** outta here.”

Any other questions as to why these two rivals probably won’t be seeing each other anymore after 2020?

It’s a shame too, because this is a fantastic series that has delivered some outstanding games. It’s two programs that absolutely should be playing each other year in and year out — especially considering where both programs currently are now and where they are heading.

Wes Rucker said it best.