by Barca Blog
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said it best. "The rubber's getting ready to meet the road."
The Commodores are riding high off a nine-game winning streak and a brand new national ranking. But this week presents their toughest challenge to date. VU will face their first two ranked opponents of the season, both on the road in hostile environments.
Their first stop will be on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena, a place the 'Dores haven't won since January of 2005. In the four meetings since, Vanderbilt has lost by an average of 18 points per game to Tennessee.
"We haven't done that well (in Knoxville)," Stallings told Joe Fisher (watch video). "We've gone over there and they've kind of physically handled us, and mentally we haven't been good. We'll have to do a lot of things better."
The Vols are 65-7 at home under head coach Bruce Pearl including a perfect 10-0 this season with a win over former-No. 1 Kansas.
"Not many people have played well there or won there," Stallings added. "In any road game, you have to match the other team's intensity and energy. You have to be able to play with a poison of calm that doesn't allow the crowd to unnerve your play."
As for Kentucky on Saturday?
"We've got more than our hands full on Wednesday night," Stallings said. "We'll worry about the No. 1 team in the nation after that game."
Pearl compliments the Commodores: Bruce Pearl went out of his way to praise the 'Dores during his meeting with the press on Monday.
"They're so much more balanced than what they've been in the past," Pearl said. "This is the deepest Vanderbilt team and most-talented Vanderbilt team that I've seen. Probably they and Kentucky are playing the best basketball of anybody in the league right now."
Pearl also stated that starting center Wayne Chism missed Monday's practice after spraining his knee in the Vols' 78-63 loss to Georgia Saturday. Chism will continue to be evaluated to determine if he can play in Wednesday's game.
VU note of the day: Sophomore forward Jeffery Taylor is third in the league in field goal percentage in all games with a .550 shooting percentage, and first in SEC games only at .667.
UT note of the day: The Volunteers are shooting .505 at home this season while limiting opponents to .359 shooting. The Vols have held each of their last four home opponents to below 38 percent shooting.
Video of the day: When the going gets tough...
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