Michigan closed the first half on a 16-6 run to grab a 33-29 lead at the break against Tennessee and its embattled Coach Bruce Pearl.

The tenor for the Tennessee-Michigan game changed when Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton said in a radio interview Wednesday that “the jury was still out” on Pearl. CBS/Turner analyst Charles Barkley said Hamilton should get fired for hiring football coach Lane Kiffin, adding that “it is a disgrace to say that the day before the tournament game.” Pearl’s Thursday news conference was dominated by questions about his job status and the comments made by his AD. There was no telling how the Vols, already the nation’s most enigmatic team, would look against the Wolverines, a team fortunate to receive a No. 8 seed.

Tobias Harris played like he did not want this to be Pearl’s final game. The 6-8 freshman made all five of his field goal attempts and all seven of his free throw attempts in the first half en route to 17 points at the break. Michigan is the better coached, more stable team. We’ll see if the Vols have enough to delay what may be the inevitable for Pearl.