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February 2, 2010

SEC slate upsets Vols coach Pearl

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl isn't happy about the way the SEC schedule is playing out this week.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl isn't happy about the way the SEC schedule is playing out this week.

Pearl is especially concerned that his 14th-ranked Volunteers (16-4, 4-2) will host South Carolina (13-8, 4-3) on Saturday night as the Gamecocks come off a bye week.

Tennessee will have both hosted Florida and traveled to LSU for a late Thursday game since the Gamecocks' last game on Jan. 30.

Pearl says he understands the challenge of having to schedule SEC games but worries Tennessee will be at a disadvantage.

The Vols also faced Georgia following its bye week. The result? The Bulldogs handed them their first SEC loss.

Pearl gave his players a day off of practice Monday to rest them a day after a 61-60 win over the Gators.

Frustrated Wall says he 'loves' Calipari

Kentucky star John Wall insists he "loves" coach John Calipari and the freshman guard says his complaint following a win over Vanderbilt last weekend that he wasn't having any fun was simply a sign of frustration.

Wall received pointed criticism from Calipari following a 68-62 loss at South Carolina last week, even though Wall said he didn't think he played that badly.

His frustration spilled over after scoring 13 points to go with nine assists and seven turnovers against the Commodores.

"I just try not to listen to him and go out and play basketball and try and help my team win," Wall said Saturday.

Two days later Wall quickly backpedaled, saying he met with Calipari and "everything is OK."

"When you are frustrated you say things you don't mean," Wall said. "We sat down and talked about it and I realized after I watched the film that I did play bad. I had a lot of turnovers and didn't lead the team like I was supposed to."

Calipari told Wall that every point guard - including former college stars Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, both of whom played for Calipari at Memphis - struggled at some point during their careers.

"The main thing is to listen to Coach. He knows what he is doing," Wall said. "Derrick and Tyreke are doing great in the NBA. He said for me to call those guys if I need some advice, since they have been through the same thing."

Calipari called Wall's small outburst "a teaching point" and said he's not worried about their relationship becoming strained.

"A lot has been thrown at him, (the) league has gotten harder and there aren't as many easy plays," Calipari said. "Now there is a frustration level of, 'Now it's time to step up, you're the marked man, and they're coming at you."'

Wall has tailed off a bit after a spectacular start. He leads the fourth-ranked Wildcats (20-1, 5-1 SEC) in scoring and assists but is also averaging 4.1 turnovers per game.

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