Earlier this season, Wednesday night’s Arkansas vs. Tennessee game surely would have been suspended.

Earlier this season, Wednesday night’s Arkansas vs. Tennessee game surely would have been suspended.
About everything else early season regarding the Razorbacks and Tennessee Volunteers seemed under suspension.
Both squads, tipping off at 6 p.m. (CST) Wednesday at Boling-Thompson Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., endured a spate of disciplinary suspensions.
The various Arkansas suspensions included starting sophomore point guard Courtney Fortson missing 14 of the Razorbacks’ 15 non-conference games.  The flurry of Tennessee suspensions included Tyler Smith, the Vols’ best player, permanently banished from the team 12 games into the nonconference campaign.
Until Arkansas’ recent three-game SEC skid, both teams had done from reasonably well to spectacularly while either restoring or doing entirely without missing parts.  John Pelphrey’s Hogs 14-15 over-all, stand 7-7 tied with Ole Miss for second best in the SEC West.
Bruce Pearl’s Vols, 21-7, 9-5, SEC East, are NCAA Tournament bound including wins over then No. 1 Kansas and last Saturday’s 74-65 over Kentucky, the SEC East/Overall leader then ranked No. 2 in the country.
Rookies forced to play early because of Fortson’s absence gave Arkansas a deeper bench when Fortson did return.
As for Tennessee, Pearl was asked on Monday’s SEC teleconference how the Vols not only survived but thrived with several missing some games and Smith exiled permanently.
“It happens to a lot of teams,” Pearl said,  “injuries and different situations that come up, foul trouble, suspensions, and you do the best you can with what you have.  When you lose somebody, the other guys have all got to rally around them and step up.”
That can bond a team, Pearl explained.
“One of the things that benefitted Arkansas,” Pearl said,  “is having to play without some of those guys for awhile. The guys that were getting out there were enjoying the opportunity to play. That was the same with us when the roster got shuffled. There are some guys that weren’t playing a lot  that started playing a lot and responded well and helped us.”
And though not playing as much, those players didn’t just fade into woodwork as suspended Vols returned.
“It improved our depth,” Pearl said.  “And the guys coming back jumped back a little fresher and more appreciative after having an opportunity taken away from you for a little bit.”
Pelphrey said it says a lot for Tennessee’s talent that the Vols can play so well minus Tyler Smith.
“Defensively they are terrific,” Pelphrey said,  “and despite losing Tyler Smith they still have got four guys in double figures. So obviously they still have some outstanding talent.”
In SEC games, Vols Wayne Chism, the senior power forward averages 14.2 points while small forward Scotty Hopson averages 12.2 and guards J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze average 11.0 and 10.4.
Pearl touted four of Arkansas starting five including, senior forward Michael
Washington, logging 22 minutes with 11 points/13 rebounds against Vanderbilt last Saturday after missing last Wednesday’s LSU game with an ankle injury, freshman forward Marshawn Powell and guards Rotnei Clarke and Fortson.
“Offensively,” Pearl said, “Arkansas is third in the league in scoring in conference games. Powell looks like one of the top freshmen in the conference and one of the top players in the conference.  Every game plan playing Arkansas deals with Courtney
Fortson can break you down and Rotnei Clarke’s ability to shoot the ball. And if they get Washington back healthy he is pretty good.” Not good enough when Vanderbilt trounced them, 89-72 last Saturday at Walton Arena.” Even though Arkansas lost to Vanderbilt,” Pearl said,  “I thought a lot of that had to do with how Vanderbilt played. Vanderbilt was sharp start to finish and played one of best games they played all year long. I thought Arkansas was playing well.” Pearl has two possible causes to incorporate into that assessment. You don’t go into a game dissing your opponent.
And you don’t diss a team that has swept you home and home.
Vanderbilt vanquished Tennessee, 85-76 and 90-71 in SEC East games at Knoxville and Nashville.