Coach Pearl talks about the Vols #1 ranking, Memphis & the week ahead

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Interview of Coach Bruce Pearl before games at Vanderbilt Tuesday & home with Kentucky Sunday...

1. Tell about the hard work the Vols have put in to reach their top ranking in the polls.

A - "Being top-rated in the polls isn't something we anticipated. But Saturday night was a special night of basketball in the state of Tennessee. Two great teams played very hard, and it was a shame either had to lose. We were behind with 30 seconds to go. Tyler Smith made a big basket, and then we hit our free throws to close it out."

2. Describe the atmosphere created around the state by the victory over No. 1-ranked Memphis Saturday.

A - "It was one of those nights that people would ask, 'Where were you the night Tennessee upset Memphis at Memphis?' Somewhere in Memphis. Maybe out on Beale Street. At the game. In Nashville, watching at home. It was an event. People told me that not since Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson fought there had there been so much excitement in Memphis.

3. How do you get the Vols ready mentally and physically for the gruelling schedule they face?

A - "It's hard, especially when you have midterms. We came in and practiced Sunday. Then we had them in the Thornton Center Sunday night. The problem is getting some rest. There is just not much opportunity for sleep. I hope our players can get some rest before Tuesday night."

4. Describe the difficulties posed by Vanderbilt Tuesday (9:00p est ESPN) at Nashville.

A - "People will look at the final score in our earlier game and see a wide margin. But Vanderbilt was within seven late in the game. I am not concerned about a letdown. I'm concerned about the oppopnent, which is very much alive and well. It's hard to beat top 10 teams on the road. This is another great challenge."

1. What concerns you most about the rematch with Kentucky Sunday (12:00p est CBS & Volunteer-TV)?

A - "The greatest concern is that Kentucky is still in the running for the SEC championship. If Kentucky wins, they can take the lead in the SEC. In many ways Sunday's game will be for the SEC championship. But how could there be a better way than by going up against your rival, the Kentucky Wildcats?"

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information

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