Worse things at Rupp Arena; Other bits ‘n pieces

Marvin Westwestwords

What happened Saturday wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened at Rupp Arena.

One hundred seven points were the most ever by Kentucky against Tennessee but the Vols have endured worse games. The very worst was March 12, 1993. It was a day of retribution.

Background: A good UK team, No. 2 in the country, had lost only twice when it came to Knoxville that February. It was about to win again until the Vols scored four in one cluster. Allan Houston hit a free throw. He missed the second on purpose. There were tips and taps and a putback for two and a foul.

UK coach Rick Pitino was livid. He claimed Houston got away with a lane violation. Nobody was listening. Tennessee won, 78-77.

Alas and alas, Tennessee was soon matched against Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Lexington. That did not go well – as in 101-40. The Wildcats set or tied 13 records. The Vols shot 23.1 per cent. There was a historic moment when they had 28 points and 27 turnovers. They finished with 30.

UK was ready at the start. It jumped ahead 14-0. Finally, after five minutes, Jermaine Brown scored for UT.

Houston was no help. The future NBA star scored three points. He was 0-for-14 until a late three, his final goal in college basketball. His dad, Wade, Tennessee coach, immediately removed him from the game.

Kentucky (and SEC) fans gave him a standing ovation, no hint of mockery, a minute of respect for his sensational career.


The gathering of the clan is good news for Tennessee football recruiting.

Billy High

Billy High, North Carolina assistant athletic director and general manager of Tar Heel football, is joining little brother Charlie and several old friends on Josh Heupel’s support staff.

High has roots, smarts, experience and motivation. Every rung on the ladder has been marked by attention to details. I have long thought he will become an athletic director. The wait may not be as long as expected.

Billy grew up at Christian Academy of Knoxville. He was not as famous as Charlie in football but he came back after college and contributed four years as a teacher and assistant coach.

His introduction to the big time was as a UT recruiting intern when Lane Kiffin was coach. As you may recall, Kiffin went away. High stayed and earned a math degree and a master’s in teacher education at UT. He was a tutor at Thornton Athletic Center.

He spent a year at Eastern Kentucky as a defensive quality control coach under Mark Elder, a former Tennessee assistant coach. He went to Auburn for two years. He was director of recruiting.

North Carolina coach Mack Brown brought him to Chapel Hill as soon as he could. He oversaw recruiting and was particularly effective in evaluation of prospects. This year, the Tar Heels have the No. 8 class in the country, No. 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Here the plot thickens. Charlie High spent a few months on the North Carolina staff but joined Heupel at Central Florida for 2020. He followed the coach to Tennessee. Heupel wanted Billy, too. It took a little longer.

Gathering of the clan? Brandon Lawson is director of scouting. Scott Altizer is director of football relations. Angelia Brummett is director of recruiting. Trey Johnson is defensive scouting coordinator. They and the Highs worked together at Tennessee long before Heupel started reassembling the group.

Roots? Father of the Highs is Dr. Bill High, one of Tennessee’s all-time great hurdlers when the school had championship track teams.


When last we looked, former Tennessee basketball Vols were doing surprisingly well for other schools.

E.J. Anosike, still 6-7 and 235, is averaging 17.7 points and 7.8 boards for Cal State Fullerton as a super senior. He had a career-high 33 points in a Big West Conference victory over Cal State Northridge the other night. He finished 12 for 19 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line while grabbing nine rebounds. Anosike put an exclamation point on the game with an emphatic dunk with 1:40 left.

He scored 20 in a more recent victory over UC Santa Barbara.

Devonte Gaines at practice

Davonte Gaines is averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds for George Mason. Kim English, former assistant to Rick Barnes, is the coach.

Interesting tidbit: George Mason was leading Maryland by one point with 57 seconds remaining when Gaines made a clutch basket late in the shot clock. George Mason defeated the Terps for the first time in 10 tries.

D.J. Burns, 6-9, Winthrop, one of the top players in the Big South, is averaging 15.1 points and four rebounds. Derrick Walker is averaging 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for Nebraska.

Drew Pember is averaging 12.6 points, 6.3 boards and 3.9 blocks for North Carolina-Asheville. In the context of Tennessee’s free-throw problems, Drew is hitting 38-of-43 (88.4).


Not incidental: Tennessee plays at Vanderbilt tonight. Do you want to bet on whether there will be one, two or no lineup changes for the Volunteers?

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is [email protected]

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