The Vols (7-2) have dropped two straight and are anxious to get back on track in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game with Southern Cal (6-5) at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: SportSouth). UT was ranked No. 7 in last week’s media polls but are sure to drop significantly when the polls are released today.
“The team came together at practice today and recognized where our challenges are,’’ Pearl said after UT’s Sunday workout. “We’re having trouble getting the ball into the post, and no one clogs the lane better than Southern Cal.’’
The Vols are coming off a 49-48 loss at the hands of Charlotte on Friday night, a game in which UT was just 2-of-17 shooting beyond the 3-point arc.
Pearl knows the Trojans (6-5) will pack it in on defense and challenge the Vols to make shots from the perimeter, just as the 49ers did at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“It’s the best time for us to play (USC), because what they do so well is what we need to work on,’’ Pearl said. “But that also makes it the worst time to play them.’’
The Trojans, directed by former Vols coach Kevin O’Neill, are coming off a 70-68 loss to No. 3 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, where the Jayhawks have won 65 in a row.
Southern Cal beat No. 19 Texas a 73-56 earlier this season, using their large front line and effective, sagging man-to-man defense.
The Trojans beat the Vols 77-55 last season in Los Angeles in what Pearl called “one of the worst losses’’ of his career.’’
Tennessee was just 2-of-22 shooting beyond the 3-point arc against Southern Cal last season.