Preview: Vols face the Cats on Senior Night

The Wildcats are riding high after a road win over SEC-rival Alabama. Add to that the fact that UK just does not lose on senior night. Does anyone really give Tennessee a chance? Losers of four of their last five games, the Volunteers limp into Rupp with a 5-9 SEC record, firmly planted in the cellar of the conference.

Add to that the distraction the team must have felt when it learned that the NCAA had released its new academic guidelines for all schools yesterday, four of its sports, including basketball, all fell below the cutoff score of 925. Basketball had the lowest score at the university, an 852.

Vols' coach Buzz Peterson said that the central issue last year was Justin Albrecht not attaining eligibility and not returning to school the next semester. Under these new NCAA guidelines, Tennessee could lose a scholarship. In his fifth season at the helm Peterson has failed to take his team to the NCAA Tournament. And unless the Vols can make a miracle run at the SEC Tournament title, that won't happen this year either. Things are not pretty in Knoxville.

All this has left Peterson's future at Tennessee very questionable. Tennessee basketball Coach Buzz Peterson met with UT President John Petersen and Athletics Director Mike Hamilton and left the meeting unsure of his future.

''I would say we are still in the evaluation process,'' Hamilton said to the Nashville Tennessean. ''I think we came out of the meeting knowing what Buzz's plan is, and now we will take the time to evaluate all of that and begin our decision-making process.'' A decision on Peterson's future could come before the SEC Tournament begins.

On the court, the UT coach recognized that things were tough but sees a silver lining in some of the play of his players. "Our guard play in particular has been impressive," Peterson said, "C.J. Watson had a good year leading our team from the point. We have had solid play inside from Andre Patterson, Brandon Crump, Major Wingate, all those guys. Chris Lofton has surprised a lot of people with his shooting and also his ability in getting open."

Indeed, Lofton has surprised and delighted Volunteer fans, particularly in their last two outings. The Kentucky native has sizzled the nets for a combined 55 points against South Carolina and Arkansas. That included an impressive 14-27 three point field goals.

Despite Tennessee's troubles, coach Tubby Smith is taking nothing for granted, "We played well in Knoxville, but I have been impressed by how good they have been," Smith said, "they are moving the ball and playing together. They only lost by two at Ole Miss and by two at Arkansas. They just manhandled South Carolina. We are going to have our hands full here."

MCFADGON, RONDO TO PLAY
Senior Scooter McFadgon suited for practice yesterday. Peterson anticipates McFadgon will play against Kentucky tomorrow. He had been sidelined the last three games with a bruised kneecap.

Tubby Smith also indicated Rajon Rondo should be suited and ready, "Rajon is fine. There is a difference in a bruise and cartilage-type damage. He felt pretty good (Saturday)," Smith said, "with a day off (Sunday), he should be fine with treatment."

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