The ultimate trap game

Just about the only way tonight's 7:30 tipoff with Auburn could be more of a "trap" game for the Tennessee Vols would be if the Tigers were 0 and 23, instead of 13-10.

Consider:

The Big Orange is riding a seven-game overall winning streak and a 29-game home-court winning streak.

The Vols are 23-2 overall – the best start in program history.

Tennessee is ranked No. 2 nationally – highest in program history.

The Vols are ranked No. 1 nationally in RPI – the highest possible.

The Big Orange is gearing up for a Saturday night showdown vs. top-ranked Memphis (25-0) that shapes up as the biggest game in program history.

So, how do the Vols get excited about playing an Auburn team that is 3-7 in SEC play, with five losses in its last six games?

Where there's a Pearl, there's a way ... maybe. UT coach Bruce Pearl is a master motivator but he has his work cut out for him trying to get the Vols pumped up for an Auburn team widely viewed as a mere tuneup for Saturday's showdown with Memphis.

Is Pearl up to the task? Perhaps. Based on his pre-game rhetoric regarding Auburn, he's certainly giving it the old college try:

"They've won two games on the road in the SEC and are one game out of second place (in the Western Division). They play six guys. They could be competing for the West except for an injury and discipline with two of their top inside players (Korvotney Barber, Josh Dollard).

"They are experienced, with guys who have been there and done that. In their three wins, they've shot 50 percent or better from three. They aren't deep, but the six they put on the floor are very good."

It's a safe bet that Pearl and his staff are trying every trick in the book to keep the Vols from overlooking tonight's tussle with Auburn. With the biggest game in school history next on the schedule, however, that's got to be an awfully tall order.


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