UT hosts Kentucky

Kentucky will have a rich tradition, a brilliant coach and a national ranking going for it in tonight's game with Tennessee. The only thing the Vols have going for them is the homefloor advantage ... but that may be enough.

The Big Orange is 9-0 at home, generally playing well at Thompson-Boling Arena. Conversely, the Vols are 1-3 on the road, and the record doesn't begin to reflect how poorly the Big Orange has played on foreign courts. The losses were by 38 points (at Florida), 21 points (at South Carolina) and 15 points (at Nebraska).

The court is still the same length and the rim is still 10 feet above the floor, yet Tennessee's offense, defense and ballhandling are dramatically better at home than on the road. The question is: Why?

UT head man Buzz Peterson mulled the question briefly before replying: ''The energy, the security of being at your own place. We've responded to coaching tactics and executed them fairly well at home.''

Conversely, the Vols have not shown energy or poise on the road, nor have they executed their assignments when playing on an opponent's floor.

''If you look at the rating sheets, it's a big change -- home and away -- when you start grading everything,'' Peterson said. ''Not so much defense, but our shot selection is different, our screens, our missed box-outs. Everything really stands out in those four road games. Even though we beat UMass (on the road), there were still some ugly things that stood out.

''For some reason, at home, we're doing the little stuff -- whether it's box-outs, the wings sprinting the floor, our post guys swiveling the way we're supposed to -- they're doing it all at home and doing a good job of it.''

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