Life on road is tough in SEC

The Tennessee Vols will try to snap a two-game losing streak tonight at Auburn. The way things are going in Southeastern Conference play this season, however, the odds are stacked heavily against them.

Seventeen SEC games have been played to date. The home team has won 14 of them, the visitor just three. Visitors are 2-8 on weekends. They were 0-6 on weeknights until Kentucky prevailed last night at South Carolina.

South Carolina also lost at home to top-ranked Florida. The only conference team other than the Gamecocks to lose an SEC home game this season is Ole Miss, which dropped a 68-58 decision to Kentucky on Jan. 6.

SEC road teams went 38-58 last year, a winning percentage of just .396. They are doing even worse this season, however. Their 3-14 mark represents a putrid .176 winning percentage in 2006-07.

Given all of this, a victory tonight at Auburn (11-7 overall, 1-2 SEC) would be a notable accomplishment for the 22nd-ranked Vols (13-4, 1-1).

"At this time, I think they're a team that would qualify as a real good win for us on the road," UT head coach Bruce Pearl says. "I think ANY win on the road in the SEC this year is very, very good.

Tennessee certainly needs a win. After prevailing in 13 of their first 15 games, the Vols suffered consecutive down-to-the-wire losses at Vanderbilt (82-81) and Ohio State (68-66) last week.

"We're four points shy of being 15-2," Pearl notes.

Still, the head man is confident there will be no emotional hangover when his team takes the floor tonight at 8 EST at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"Our attitude is extremely positive," Pearl said. "But that alone won't secure a victory. They are 7-2 at Auburn in their last nine match-ups with the Vols."

Tonight's game projects to be a shootout. Auburn shot 56.1 percent from the floor – 66.7 percent in the second half – in last year's meeting at Knoxville. The Vols were even hotter, shooting 56.5 percent – 64.5 in the second half – en route to a 105-89 victory.

Moreover, UT and Auburn have two of the SEC's weakest defenses. The Vols rank 12th in scoring defense, 11th in field-goal defense and 7th in 3-point defense. The Tigers are 10th in 3-point defense, 8th in field-goal defense and tied for fifth in scoring defense.

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