Pearl: Only Vols committed to defense will play

(Click on the video icon above to watch Bruce Pearl's news conference from Monday, January 3.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl says only players who are committed to defense will see playing time as the Volunteers prepare for No. 21 Memphis and the start of the Southeastern Conference season.

The Vols (9-4) are in a tailspin, losing four of their last six games because of increasingly poor defense.

Pearl typically uses 11 players but played 12 in narrow wins over Belmont and Tennessee-Martin, their only two victories since beating then-No. 3 Pittsburgh on Dec. 11.

Until their 91-78 loss to College of Charleston on Friday, the coach has preferred to frequently rotate players to outlast opponents with less depth.

He won't say who has earned playing time, only that substitution will no longer be based on who's tired but instead on which players need to be on the floor to defend.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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