KNOXVILLE -- Jeronne Maymon has been cleared to play games with the University of Tennessee men's basketball team.
He really was this time.
"Is it [final]?" Maymon said after Wednesday night's practice. "Really? I didn't even know. It's definitely a load off. I feel really good right now."
Maymon, a sophomore forward transfer from Marquette, hoped to play in UT's past two games but finally got cleared Wednesday afternoon after his Fall semester grades were officially recorded as final.
He hoped to become eligible for an undefeated team, but the seventh-ranked Volunteers (7-1) were shocked Tuesday night at home by Oakland (6-5).
Still, Maymon, his teammates and coaches are all excited about the 6-foot-7, 258-pound, left-handed sophomore getting in the rotation for Friday night's game at Charlotte (4-6).
"I was in the rotation, so I thought I'd be good," Maymon said. "But I thought that last time, so I was like, 'Maybe there will be another surprise,' so I didn't get my hopes up."
Nothing is stopping those hopes, now, though.
"The last two games were the hardest [to watch], because I actually thought I was really going to play, and I had my mind set on it," Maymon said. "I was getting my body prepared, and my mind all mentally prepared for the games, and then to be told I can't play, it was a real big letdown for me.
"I had to regroup and get refocused."
Junior guard Scotty Hopson said Maymon is "going to help us a lot."
"He can really play defense and rebound, and you can't ever have enough of that," Hopson said. "He's a big guy, and he's really strong, so he's going to help us a lot. It's going to be nice to get him in there in a game.
"We want our identity to be defense and rebounding, and he's really good at that."
The Vols could have used much more defense and rebounding Tuesday, when Oakland shot better than 53 percent in both halves and beat them 36-35 on the glass.
"I think a lot of it had to do with energy," UT coach Bruce Pearl said after watching film. "I think a lot of it did have to do with focus, and we got beat by a good team that made plays, and we did not execute. ...It was just really, really poor and sloppy, and as a result, we sort of succumb to fatigue. You succumb to fatigue, and it wasn't so much physical fatigue -- those guys played more minutes than we did, and we had a deeper bench -- but we did succumb to fatigue and they didn't."
The Vols didn't seem too downtrodden, though, starting at the top. Pearl handled the aftermath of Tuesday's loss like he handles most setbacks -- by quickly confronting it and then quickly moving forward.
"We've got to get ready to play Charlotte. How hard could I go on them today?" Pearl said. "You've just got to grow. We've got to get our bodies ready. We've got to get our minds ready to go on the road. I understand this is going to be a blackout for them, and it's a big ball game for them, and not every SEC team will go home-and-home with an Atlantic-10 [team].
"The opportunity to play in Charlotte, in Bobcat Arena, it is an NCAA Tournament site ... at some point. It is a way of trying to navigate your team and give them challenges to improve."
Contact Wes Rucker at email@example.com or 865-851-9739. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/wesruckerCTFP or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.
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