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Vols Fall To D-II Indianapolis

The 2010-11 season isn’t exactly getting off to a great start for Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl.  Last night his #23 Vols were clocked at home by Division II exhibition foe Indianapolis, 79-64.  The Greyhounds opened the second half with a 26-3 run.

“Defensively, we didn’t have great effort,” Pearl said in The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “All of that is my fault.  You’ve got to put it all on the coach.  We were embarrassed.”

Ironically, Pearl was beaten at his own game by Indianapolis coach Stan Gouard, who played for UT’s coach at Southern Indiana.

“It was embarrassing and we’re never going to forget this,” said senior guard Melvin Goins.

In September it was revealed that the NCAA is investigating the Tennessee program and that Pearl had lied to investigators.  He is currently working without a contract and the possibility of serious NCAA penalties will be hanging over his team all season. 

Then last week Pearl lost one of his team’s best defenders — Josh Bone — to a fractured wrist.  Now comes a home defeat to a Division II school.  You can be sure that support for Pearl is waning in Knoxville.  Once the town’s biggest hero, Pearl now has a faction of the fanbase that is openly calling for his scalp.  It’s likely a small (but vocal) faction, but when you consider just how popular Pearl was last season when the Vols reached their first Elite Eight, it’s telling just the same.

Tennessee’s loss to Indianapolis could end up aiding the Vols, of course.  The team could take motivation from the loss.  And it’s better to lose in the exhibition season (as Syracuse did to D-II Le Moyne College last season) than to drop an RPI-busting game in the regular season. 

But while the timing of the loss could be good for Pearl’s team, it’s certainly not good for the coach.  Pearl has been eating a mud sundae the past two months… and last night’s loss was the cherry on top.

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