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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sporting News - UT-Memphis game is hot ticket in Volunteer State

UT-Memphis game is hot ticket in Volunteer State
Posted: February 19, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Leading up to one of the most anticipated games of the college basketball season, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl picked up the phone this week and called, of all people, Memphis coach John Calipari.

No heated debate. No recruits to fight over. Just a friendly exchange among coaches who aren't usually friendly.

"He was begging me for tickets," Calipari said during his teleconference Tuesday. "And I told him 'No."'

Calipari was joking, of course, but he never passes a chance to take a swipe at the Volunteers.

Saturday, Calipari's top-ranked Tigers will get another chance when No. 2 Tennessee visits the FedExForum for a nationally televised game that will have the eyes of the nation staring at the Volunteer State.

And everyone wants to come.

Calipari said Pearl was asking for Tennessee alumnus and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, among others. Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson granted the request, Calipari said, but he just wanted to make Pearl sweat.

"Tickets are going online like they're Super Bowl tickets, it's incredible," Calipari said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one set of tickets in the front row near the visitors' bench was listed for $10,000 each on StubHub.com.

Not only does the game feature the nation's top two in the AP Poll, it also features the best in the RPI. Tennessee has the top spot in the RPI, and Memphis is a close second.

The game's timing has a lot to do with the soaring demand.

It's the highest ranking either team has ever earned, and ESPN's College Gameday will be broadcasting from the game.

"Some people still think it was an ESPN conspiracy," Calipari joked.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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