Pearl set to return to sideline for UT

photo Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl signals to his team during the first half of his team's 72-61 loss to No. 8 Connecticut in their NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

KNOXVILLE -- Tony Jones didn't need to prove anything to himself.

Yet the University of Tennessee associate head basketball coach won't deny that his eight-game stint leading the Volunteers served as a learning experience.

"I've always been prepared to be a head coach," Jones said after Saturday's 65-60 overtime loss to visiting Alabama, Jones' final game filling in for coach Bruce Pearl, who was suspended by the Southeastern Conference for the first eight games of the league schedule for lying to NCAA investigators.