No place like home?

Today's sports quiz: What happened to Tennessee's homefloor advantage?

The Vol basketball team went 7-1 in Southeastern Conference home games during 2003-04, tying Kentucky for the league lead in that category. With every starter back from that team, however, Tennessee stands 2-4 in SEC home games in 2004-05.

The Vols can't even beat the likes of UT-Chattanooga and Nebraska on their home court this season. So, with two home games remaining (Feb. 23 vs. South Carolina and March 5 vs. Georgia), Tennessee has a mediocre 8-6 homefloor record. Four of the homefloor losses have been by double-digit margins -- 88-63 to Vanderbilt, 84-62 to Kentucky, 72-54 to Alabama and 84-73 to Florida.

So, what's happened to UT's homecourt advantage?

''We haven't had much of it,'' head coach Buzz Peterson conceded during his Monday news conference. ''I'm a big believer that it's not who you play; it's WHEN you play them.''

The Vol coach went on to note that Alabama was coming off a 31-point loss at Florida -- and presumably breathing fire -- when it thumped Tennessee last Wednesday. Conversely, the Gators were coming off the blowout of Bama and a three-point loss at Kentucky -- seemingly on a roll -- when they bested the Vols over the weekend.

''We haven't been able to protect the homecourt at all this year,'' Peterson said. ''It's been kind of strange.''

Equally strange is the fact a UT squad that went 0-8 in SEC road games last year -- losing by an average margin of 18.4 points -- has played surprisingly well on the road this season. The Vols won at Georgia and at Florida, while playing Vanderbilt much tougher on the road (67-62 loss) than at home (88-63 loss).

''I really like this team when we go on the road,'' Peterson said. ''They seem to be pretty focused. They concentrate, do the things we put on the scouting report moreso than they do at home.''

The coach added that he thinks his players tend to ''get caught up in emotions and all that'' when playing at home. Conversely, he says they hvae been ''focused and done some nice things to win some games there (on the road).''

Here's a game-by-game recap of UT's home performances under Peterson (opponents' national rankings in parenthesis):

2001-02

W 72-63 over Tennessee Tech
W 97-66 over Appalachian State
W 72-66 over Radford
L 72-74 to West Virginia
W 82-76 over Ole Miss
L 104-100 to Florida in OT (3)
W 66-62 over Syracuse (8)
W 74-56 over Middle Tennessee
L 60-94 to South Carolina
W 82-59 over Auburn
W 76-74 over Kentucky (7)
W 64-53 over Arkansas
L 62-67 to Vanderbilt
W 71-63 over Georgia (16)

TOTAL: 10 wins, 4 losses ... 5-3 SEC ... 3-1 vs. ranked teams

2002-03

W 71-69 over Gardner-Webb
W 88-57 over VMI
W 63-49 over Charleston Southern
W 79-61 over Western Carolina
W 77-50 over UT-Martin
W 71-64 over New Mexico
L 71-74 to Kentucky (18)
W 71-66 over Vanderbilt
L 69-72 to Louisville (9)
W 60-56 over South Carolina
W 71-45 over Massachusetts
W 78-72 over Georgia (17)
W 66-59 over Florida (4)
L 71-76 to Alabama
L 67-88 to LSU
W 59-48 over Mississippi State (23)

TOTAL: 11 wins, 4 losses ... 5-3 SEC ... 3-2 vs. ranked teams

2003-04

W 81-70 over Wofford
W 81-56 over Tennessee State
W 108-84 over Texas A&M
W 99-49 over Citadel
W 87-71 over Georgia State
W 79-61 over Tennessee Tech
W 80-67 over UNC-Asheville
W 89-65 over Georgia
W 76-66 over Vanderbilt (23)
L 68-69 to Kentucky (9)
L 62-65 to Louisville (5)
W 65-63 over Florida (22)
L 62-77 to Georgia Tech (15)
W 69-65 over Arkansas
W 83-66 over Ole Miss
W 75-69 over Auburn
W 63-56 over South Carolina

TOTAL: 14 wins, 3 losses ... 7-1 SEC ... 2-3 vs. ranked teams

2004-05

W 75-67 over Wofford
L 68-69 to UT-Chattanooga
W 71-69 over Xavier
W 71-45 over Alabama State
W 77-68 over Belmont
W 90-49 over Campbell
L 61-62 to Nebraska
W 83-51 over Coastal Carolina
L 63-88 to Vanderbilt
W 64-63 over Mississippi State (11)
L 62-84 to Kentuck
y (7)
W 77-55 over LSU
L 54-72 to Alabama (17)
L 84-73 to Florida

TOTAL: 8 wins, 6 losses ... 2-4 SEC ... 1-2 vs. ranked teams


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