OL HOOPS REPORT: #OrangeOut vs. the Tigers
Since the 2005-06 season, the annual Tennessee-Memphis men’s basketball clashes have stood among the most entertaining rivalries in the game. Rotating annually between Knoxville and the Bluff City, the series perennially ignites the passion of both fanbases – each of which extend far beyond the 381 miles of Interstate 40 that separate the two campuses.
The 2013 edition of this highly anticipated matchup tips off Friday at 8:02 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena. What makes Friday’s game unique is the fact that, once the final buzzer sounds, it is unknown when the programs will meet again.
There are no future meetings scheduled, and Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has told reporters on multiple occasions that he has no desire to see the series survive.
"If they aren't going to do it then we have to move forward and schedule games we need to schedule," UT head coach Cuonzo Martin said. " You've heard Josh say why he doesn't want to play and that's fine, I can respect that. For us, we'd like to continue, but if not, we have to move forward."
After some Tennessee players prior to Sunday’s practice approached Martin with the idea of promoting an “Orange-Out” for Friday’s game, Martin took to Twitter Sunday night imploring fans to wear orange.
“The players said they want an ‘Orange-Out’ Friday,” Martin Tweeted. “I like it. Vol Nation, let’s do it!”
The post was “re-tweeted” nearly 500 times.
Fittingly, the Vols on Sunday also began breaking in some new orange adidas basketball shoes. The team will wear the new orange kicks for the first time Friday.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Memphis 14-10, dating to 1969. The last time these teams met in Knoxville (Jan. 5, 2011), the Vols posted a 104-84 victory. The programs met for 14 straight seasons from 1988-2001 before a five-year lull. The series resumed during the 2005-06 campaign and has been an annual staple since.
The Volunteers are unbeaten at home this season (6-0) and own a 21-4 home record under Martin. Friday marks Memphis’ first true road game of the season.
The Vols’ and Tigers’ rosters combine to feature 12 players from the Volunteer State.
A limited number of tickets remain for Friday’s game. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.UTtix.com or via phone by calling 1-800-332-8657.
The first 500 UT students through the gates Friday will receive a free Tennessee headband – similar to that worn by Vols power forward Jarnell Stokes, a Memphis native.
STOKES TO FACE HOMETOWN SCHOOL FOR FIRST TIME FRIDAY
Memphis won both meetings with Tennessee a season ago – claiming a 99-97 double-overtime victory in the 2011 Maui Invitational as well as a home triumph in January.
But for both those games, the Big Orange were without the service of Stokes, who enrolled at UT midseason and began his freshman campaign a few days after the clash in the FedEx Forum.
Friday’s game marks the first time Stokes will face his hometown school. He could only watch from a seat behind the UT bench the last time the Vols and Tigers squared off.
This past summer, Stokes (14.0 ppg) and Memphis freshman Shaq Goodwin (12.4 ppg) were the second and third-leading scorers, respectively, on USA Basketball’s gold-medal-winning U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas Championships in Brazil. Both players hail from Memphis and are good friends.
Now an 18-year-old sophomore (he’ll turn 19 on Jan. 7), Stokes is Tennessee’s team leader in field-goal percentage (.575), rebounding (7.4 rpg), blocks (10) and steals (11). He appears on the watch lists for both the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award.
Stokes is pictured on Friday’s game ticket, and he also will be featured on the gameday poster sold throughout the arena concourse.
MEMPHIS WAS MARTIN’S FINAL COLLEGIATE FOE
Martin enjoyed a decorated, championship-winning collegiate playing career at Purdue from 1992-95. That portion of his career came to a close, however, against the University of Memphis.
Martin and his third-seeded Boilermakers teammates closed out the 1994-95 season with a 75-73 loss to the sixth-seeded Tigers in the 1995 NCAA Midwest Regional in Austin, Texas, on March 19, 1995.
A starter that day, Martin made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
Purdue’s final record stood at 25-7, and Martin went on to be selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1995 NBA Draft.
EMPHASIS OF THE DAY
Tuesday’s “Emphasis of the Day” – daily midcourt talking points spearheaded by head coach Cuonzo Martin prior to each practice – focused on making a statement.
Happy New Year. Let each one of us do our part and make a Statement!
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter.