Vols may be rusty

Facing the sixth-ranked team in college basketball on its home floor is quite a challenge. Magnifying that challenge is the fact the Tennessee Vols (5-0) will be playing for the first time in 11 days Saturday, when they face mighty Texas (8-1) at the Erwin Center in Austin.

Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. EST with television coverage provided by ESPN.

Vol head coach Bruce Pearl knows his team may be a little rusty because of the layoff but he isn't complaining.

"You can't always control that, as far as the schedule is concerned," he said. "I like the schedule; I just wish we didn't have quite that long a layoff."

Although the Vols haven't played a game since posting a come-from-behind 89-81 defeat of Appalachian State on Dec. 6, they've been far from inactive. The players have been hitting the books and the practice floor hard.

"One thing we are doing is having a scrimmage in a game-like situation, with officials," Pearl said. "This is finals time, and it has been an opportunity for players to focus on their papers and their academics."

While the layoff has given the Vols' legs some rest, the inactivity could lead to some sloppy play, particularly in the early stages of Saturday's game. Pearl isn't inclined to make excuses, however.

"I look at the glass as half full, and I like to think of the positive side," he said. "Yeah, we might be a little sluggish starting out, but I'm okay with the schedule."


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