Dawg-fight looms

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl always says good things about Vol opponents. But the good things he's saying about today's opponent, Georgia, happen to be valid.

The Bulldogs have several factors weighing in their favor heading into today's 4 p.m. tip-off in Athens.

1. They already faced UT's up-tempo offense and full-court defense Jan. 11 in Knoxville, so they should be better prepared for the rematch.

2. The Bulldogs have played very well in their last two games, beating Alabama 88-79 in Athens and shocking Vanderbilt 74-73 in Nashville.

3. They had no mid-week game, so they've had six days to rest and prepare for Tennessee.

"Georgia's playing really, really well," Pearl notes. "They beat Alabama at home, they beat Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt and they've had all week off this week."

Tennessee had a different practice regimen this week also, but Pearl isn't sure that's a benefit.

"We've only had a day and a half to prepare for them (Bulldogs)," he says. "I gave the kids Wednesday off because they practiced on Sunday."

In summation, Pearl figures the Dawgs have quite a bit going for them this weekend.

"There are a lot of advantages for Georgia," the coach notes, "but it's going to be Big Orange Country in Athens, Georgia on Saturday afternoon."

That's because Tennessee is 17-3 overall (8-1 SEC), ranked No. 11 nationally and riding a six-game winning streak that has its fans worked into a lather. With the Vols coming off a historic Tuesday night win at Kentucky, UT fans will be attending the Georgia game in bigger numbers than usual.

"One of the keys for us will be to get our fans to travel, like the Lady Vols do," Pearl says. "I encourage the Vol Nation to take the show on the road."

The coach expects to see a good turnout of orange-clad UT fans this afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

"I think now we're going to get more and more people (following UT on road)," Pearl says. "I think we'll get a bunch of people at Georgia."

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