Ready to roll

Tennessee's next four basketball games are against SEC West teams, which could be good news ... or bad news.

It could be good news because the West clearly is the weaker division this year. West teams are just 3-9 against East foes this season, with two of the wins posted by Alabama (vs. South Carolina and Kentucky) on its home floor.

It could be good news because the Vols went 8-0 against Western Division teams last season.

It could be good news because Bruce Pearl stands 25-13 all-time vs. the Western Division ... except Pearl won't be on the bench the next four games due to an ongoing suspension.

It could be bad news in that the Vols are 0-1 against the West this season, having fallen 68-65 at Arkansas on Jan. 8.

It could be bad news in that the Vols struggle against zone defenses, and they'll get a steady diet of them against LSU (tonight), Ole Miss (Saturday) and Auburn (Feb. 3). Only Alabama (Feb. 5) is a man-to-man team.

"You are seeing more zone from the West," Pearl said. "Mississippi State is playing a lot of zone. Ole Miss is playing a lot of zone. LSU is playing a lot of zone. Auburn played almost the entire game against Florida in zone.

"Alabama will be the one exception. Anthony (Grant) has got them playing good, hard, tough man-to-man defense. That's their calling card. But there's five teams playing zone out West."

Currently 12-7 overall and 2-2 in SEC play, Tennessee desperately needs to string together a winning streak in order to enhance its chances of challenging for the Eastern Division title and earning an NCAA Tournament bid. With a quartet of West teams on tap, this might be the ideal time for that winning streak to happen.

"We head West now for the next four games," Pearl said. "That may sound appealing."

As a matter of fact, it does.

PEARL VS. THE SEC WEST

2006 (3 wins, 3 losses)

lost 74-88 at LSU

won 88-65 at Mississippi State

beat Ole Miss 86-72

beat Auburn 105-89

lost 79-92 at Alabama

lost 69-73 to Arkansas

2007 (4 wins, 3 losses)

beat Mississippi State 92-84

lost 80-83 at Auburn

lost 69-83 at Ole Miss

beat LSU 70-67

beat Alabama 69-66 (OT)

won 83-72 at Arkansas

lost 67-76 (OT) to LSU in SEC Tournament

2008 (6 wins, 1 loss)

beat Ole Miss 85-83

won 93-86 at Alabama

won 76-71 at Mississippi State

won 47-45 at LSU

beat Arkansas 93-71

beat Auburn 89-70

lost 91-92 to Arkansas in SEC Tournament

2009 (4 wins, 5 losses)

lost 73-79 to LSU

won 74-72 at Arkansas

lost 77-78 at Auburn

lost 65-81 at Ole Miss

beat Mississippi State 81-76

lost 67-70 to Alabama

beat Alabama 86-62 in SEC Tournament

beat Auburn 94-85 in SEC Tournament

lost 61-64 to Mississippi State in SEC Tournament.

2010 (8 wins, 0 losses)

beat Auburn 81-55

beat Ole Miss 71-69 (OT)

won 63-56 at Alabama

won 59-54 at LSU

beat Arkansas 90-73

won at Mississippi State 75-59

beat LSU 59-49 in SEC Tournament

beat Ole Miss 76-65 in SEC Tournament

2011 (0 wins, 1 loss)

lost 68-65 at Arkansas


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