Pearl on polls

Tennessee has moved to 13th in the latest Associated Press basketball poll but head coach Bruce Pearl feels more pressure to protect the Vols' home-floor winning streak than to protect their ranking.

"I don't feel any more pressure because we're in the top 25 than when we first got here," he said this week. "If we've created some greater expectations because of that, that's fine.

"I'd rather have the expectations be high because then you have to try to live up to it. But it hasn't made any more pressure for me or the team. It just helps elevate us."

Tennessee, 14-3 overall, is 10-0 at Thompson-Boling Arena this season. Five of the remaining 10 games are at home – Vanderbilt (Wednesday), Ole Miss (Saturday), Auburn (Feb. 15), Arkansas (Feb. 25) and Kentucky (March 1). If the Vols can sweep those five they'll finish the regular season no worse than 19-8 overall. That would earn an NCAA Tournament bid for sure.

"You obviously have to hold serve when you're at home," Pearl said. "I think there's more pressure on you to win when you're at home because home wins are required and road games are opportunities. We'd like to try and take care of business. "

Last week's defeats of Mississippi State (88-65) and South Carolina (81-65) enabled Tennessee to move from 19th to 13th in the AP poll and from 20th to 16th in the ESPN/USA TODAY Coaches' poll.

Connecticut, Duke and Memphis are 1-2-3 in each poll.

Florida slipped to No. 8 after losing to South Carolina and beating Vanderbilt. The only other SEC team in the ratings is LSU, which checked in at No. 24 in the AP ratings but remains unranked by the coaches.


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