His Vols shot a paltry 39-percent from the floor and finished with more turnovers (10) than assists (8) Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa. They overcome those deficiencies, however, to grind out a 63-56 defeat of Alabama at Coleman Coliseum.
"It wasn't pretty," the Vol coach said, "but it was beautiful."
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and being 15-2 overall (3-0 in SEC play) is a beautiful place to be heading into Saturday's game at Georgia. If the Vols are to remain unbeaten in league action, however, they must execute more crisply than they did last night.
"The defense has been good but the offense has got to sharpen up if we're going to be able to continue to win," Pearl said. "The spacing is not good. The valuing possessions is not good ... attention to detail. Especially when you go up against better teams, you just can't slop through things."
Tennessee's offense has been a bit sloppy of late. Counting last Saturday's 71-69 overtime defeat of Ole Miss, the Vols' stats for the past two games show them hitting just 45 of 121 from the field (37.2 percent) and 9 of 33 from 3-point range (27.3 percent). They also recorded more turnovers (24) than assists (20), even though they share the SEC lead in assist/turnover margin at 1.3 to 1.
"We are not getting very many easy baskets because we're not pressing," Pearl noted. "We're not getting very many easy baskets because, even though we're playing good defense, we're not getting the ball out to the point guard. We're not sprinting without the ball and advance-passing the ball down the floor.
"So it's halfcourt, rock 'em-sock 'em robot basketball. That's fine, if you can grind wins out. At the same time, I still think you can play faster and accomplish the same things. We're not attacking people's transition defense like we should, like we can and like we must."