Pearl knows Bama

Buzz Peterson's last victory before becoming head coach of the Tennessee Vols was a post-season defeat of Alabama in the 2001 National Invitation Tournament.

Bruce Pearl's next-to-last victory before becoming head coach of the Tennessee Vols was a post-season defeat of Alabama in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

UT fans can only hope the similarities end there. Peterson went 0-6 against Alabama as the Vols' head man, losing by an average margin of 17 points.

Pearl gets his first shot at the Tide since assuming the Vol reins this afternoon. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. in Tuscaloosa with TV coverage provided by JP Sports.

Pearl downplays his last meeting with Alabama, noting that his Wisconsin-Milwaukee team had some advantages that his Tennessee team won't have today.

For instance, the meeting last March was at a neutral court in Cleveland, Ohio. Today's will be at a hostile and sold-out Coleman Coliseum. In addition, UW-Milwaukee was fresher when it played Alabama. Tennessee won't be any fresher today, since each team played Wednesday night.

Now that he has experienced the toll SEC play takes on a team, Pearl can appreciate how weary Alabama must've felt heading into its game with UW-Milwaukee last March.

"I can understand what happens to teams coming out of the SEC; I'm living on the other side of it now," Pearl said. "This (conference schedule) is grueling. Every night you say, ‘This is the big one. We've got to have this one.' We've been doing this for three or four weeks now, and we haven't even gotten to the SEC Tournament yet. It's a grind."

Although conceding that his Panthers were "fresher and hungrier" than Alabama last March, Pearl says Mark Gottfried's Tide performed solidly that day.

"Alabama played pretty well," the Vol coach recalled. "We just played one of our best games. Everything we did then (we're still doing), so he (Gottfried) has got a pretty good idea what we're going to try to do."

Tennessee brings a 19-3 overall record and a 10-1 SEC mark into today's game. The Vols have won eight consecutive SEC games for the first time since 1981-82.

Alabama is 14-9 and 7-4. The Tide has won 15 of the last 16 meetings with UT in Tuscaloosa.


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