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.
Vols coach Rick Barnes said earlier today he doesn't think UT-Memphis series will be renewed after the 3-game set is completed next year in Nashville Dec. 18 or 20. Memphis hosted last year, UT will host Dec. 14 this year. Memphis coach Penny Hardaway blasted Barnes last year.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 18, 2019
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.
Have another look at the Memphis flop-fest. My favorite part is the double-flop at the end.— Ryan Moses (@RMoses10) December 15, 2018
(Also, note the ref on the baseline called the last foul on the other side of the court) pic.twitter.com/6pQJrxTXII
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.