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(WBIR - Knoxville) It's been a big season for the UT men's basketball team. A strong ending to the season concluded Friday night at the NCAA tournament after the Vols lost to Michigan 71 - 73

Saturday, dozens of fans gathered at UT's Pratt Pavilion to welcome the team back home. All of them said the men have no reason to hold their heads down.

Jeremy Key said, "Top 16 teams in the country. There are a lot of teams out there who would like to be where we're at right now."

Brad Dehler said, "I knew we had the talent to, but I did not think we'd be playing in the Sweet Sixteen game."

The Vols finished their season with a 24 - 13 record.

Jennie Grubb said, "This was a special season for us because it was the first one that we went as a whole family to games."

The men's basketball season was filled with lots of ups and down both on and off the court.

Vincent Pisano said, "When all the Pearl music started, they rallied around Coach Martin."

Mid-season, More than 12,000 fans signed a petition asking the Vols to rehire Bruce Pearl as head coach.

Patrick Eaddy said, "At the first of the year I didn't support Cuonzo Martin, I didn't sign the petition. But lately when the team started winning it turned me into a Cuonzo Martin fan."

More recently, there's a second petition in which UT fans are asking to give Coach Martin a raise and a contract extension.

"I think Coach Martin's great. I think he's the right man for the job," said Dehler.

Fans say it's a job well done by both the coaching staff and of course the players.

Key said, "Good job guys. We're behind you all the way. Don't be too disappointed or hard on yourselves. Go Vols!"

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