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UT, Memphis fans want state rivalry game to continue

2:14 AM, Jan 5, 2013   |    comments
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An expected sellout crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena Friday may be one sign that fans of University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis want to continue their in-state rivalry game.

The eight-year agreement between the two schools playing each other on the hardwood has ended for the time being. According to UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton, the Vols would like to continue the annual match-up and both athletic directors were "in talks."

"It's a healthy rivalry," said UT fan Marylin Lee, who traveled to Rocky Top from Memphis to see the game. "It wasn't so long ago that Memphis was #1 and Tennessee was number #2. And guess who won? The #2."

However, not everyone wanted to continue this series.

"[Memphis] don't want to come to Knoxville and they don't want us to come to Memphis..." UT fan Jeff Pruitt began before he was interrupted by his son, Parker. "Recruiting," Parker said. Jeff agreed with that statement.

However, Tigers coach Josh Pastner told WHBQ-AM this week, "It is not as much on the recruiting aspect anymore with the Tennessee game... Talking to 'Tiger Nation,' the fans, and everybody else, the one constant that everyone wants is Louisville," the school's other annual rivalry.

"Louisville and Cincinnati (are leaving the Big East), those rivalries end[ing], but they still play," said Memphis fan Calvin Lewis. "So I think that they need to keep the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry. Keep that in touch."

Former UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl told 10News he would also like to see the Vols continue their 600-mile match up with the Tigers. He said the game compares to other rivalries like Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Florida.

As of Friday, the series ended with each time winning four games a piece. Five of the eight games ended with single-digit differences between the two teams.

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