Pearl returns for NCAA odds match at Kentucky
By: Adam Markowitz
Monday, February 7, 2011
Head coach Bruce Pearl was suspended for the first eight games of the SEC betting season for the Tennessee Volunteers
. He'll be back on the sidelines Tuesday night at Rupp Arena, where the boys from Rocky Top will take on the Kentucky Wildcats
in a nationally televised NCAA basketball wagering war.
Tip-off from Lexington, KY will take place at 6:00 p.m. (PT) in this clash that can be seen on the ESPN family of networks.
We've already spoken about Pearl and his suspension for offseason violations with the Vols, but this isn't the first time that he has coached the team this year. He was with the team for a 72-61 loss at the hands of the Connecticut Huskies, as well as for a 104-84 win over the Memphis Tigers in this calendar year.
Of course, there isn't a little road win this year with Pearl on the sidelines, as the only victory that was even close was an 83-76 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers on a neutral court (that "neutral court" was in the Steel City at Consol Energy Arena).
Though it's going to be great to have Pearl back on the sidelines on Tuesday, this isn't a game that revolves around who is making the trip to Lexington, but about who might not. Scotty Hopson is still up in the air right now after missing back-to-back games with a sprained left ankle. Hopson is the Vols' leading scorer at 16.5 PPG, and without him in the lineup the Volunteers only have four players that are averaging more than 4.0 PPG.
Keep an eye on Tobias Harris one way or the other on Tuesday. Harris scored 19 points and had 11 assists in the loss at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the final game of Pearl's SEC suspension this past Saturday. The 6-foot-8 freshman out of Dix Hills, NY, has been a monster this year, averaging 14.8 PPG and 7.7 RPG.
Is it just us, or does it seem like there is something that is just a little bit wrong with the Wildcats? Kentucky is going to be an NCAA Tournament team for certain, but if you took away the name "Kentucky" and perhaps replaced it with "Vanderbilt" or "South Carolina," we wouldn't be all that sure.
UK was dropped twice last week on the road against the Florida Gators and Ole Miss Rebels, falling to 1-4 this year in the SEC both SU and against the college basketball odds on the road.
Part of the problem is that Doron Lamb and Darius Miller have really fallen off in these big time SEC battles. Lamb only scored five points in the loss to the Gators in Gainesville, while Miller has now had consecutive games without reaching double figures on the stats ledger, something that he did with regularity earlier this year.
Instead, the pressure is really shifting to Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. These two youngsters are combining to average 35.4 PPG year and shoulder the load of the Kentucky offense in their freshman campaigns, and they are the heart and soul of this team. When they're not at their best though, it really doesn't seem like the 'Cats have much of a chance of scratching their foes.
The good news for head coach John Calipari and company is that they really have dominated the NCAA basketball betting proceedings against UT of late. The Wildcats are 15-4 SU and 11-8 ATS dating back to 2002, and have only lost straight up twice to the Vols at home since the mid-1990s.
Kentucky has also covered five straight as the hosts. The last meeting between these teams resulted in a very lopsided 74-45 win for the Wildcats in the 2010 SEC Tournament.