'Mo' no help in SEC tourney

Momentum can be a powerful force, unless you're the Tennessee Vols heading into the SEC Basketball Tournament.

A quick review shows that head coach Bruce Pearl's teams actually do worse when they enter the league tourney on a roll than they do under normal conditions.

Check it out:

- His 2006 Vols won five of their last eight SEC games, then lost 79-71 to South Carolina in their SEC Tournament opener.

- His 2007 Vols won seven of their last eight SEC games, then lost 76-67 to LSU in their SEC Tournament opener.

- His 2008 Vols won seven of their last eight SEC games, beat South Carolina 89-87 in their SEC Tournament opener but lost 92-91 to Arkansas in Game 2.

- His 2009 Vols won five of their last eight SEC games, beat Alabama 86-62 and Auburn 94-85 in Rounds 1 and 2 of the SEC Tournament before losing 64-61 to Mississippi State in the finals.

- His 2010 Vols won five of their last eight SEC games, beat LSU 59-49 and Ole Miss 76-65 in Rounds 1 and 2 of the SEC Tournament before losing 74-45 to Kentucky in Round 3.

To recap: The two years Tennessee entered tourney play off 7-1 finishes in league action saw the Vols win one game and lose two. The three years Tennessee entered tourney play off 5-3 finishes in league action saw the Vols win four games and lose three.

So, how will the Big Orange do entering tournament play on the heels of a 3-5 finish in league action? There is no precedent to draw from since the 2010-11 Vols are the first under Pearl to post a losing record in the second half of SEC regular-season play.

On a positive note, the Vols have steadily improved in SEC Tournament play under Pearl. After dropping their opener in each of his first two years, they won a game in Year 3, then won two games each in Years 4 and 5.

Here's a look at Pearl's SEC starts and finishes to date:

2006: started 7-1, finished 5-3 ... total 12-4 ... lost in Game 1 of tourney

2007: started 3-5, finished 7-1 ... total 10-6 ... lost in Game 1 of tourney

2008: started 7-1, finished 7-1 ... total 14-2 ... Lost in Game 2 of tourney

2009: started 5-3, finished 5-3 ... total 10-6 ... lost in Game 3 of tourney

2010: started 6-2, finished 5-3 ... total 11-5 ... lost in Game 3 of tourney

2011: started 5-3, finished 3-5 ... total 8-8 ... ???


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