VAUGHT: Lofton feeling what Cats often do

Chris Lofton grew up following University of Kentucky basketball while he was becoming a star player at Mason County. Now that he's a senior at Tennessee, he's experiencing something that has been normal for most Kentucky basketball teams.

"We have got an S (for Superman) on our chest this year. That could be good or bad. The good thing is we get a lot of publicity. Who doesn't like that? But the other side is that every team is gunning for us this year," said Lofton. "You can never let up because if you do, you get beat."

That's the price for being the Southeastern Conference's top-ranked team and preseason favorite to win the SEC championship.

The Vols hope to keep that title bid rolling when they play in Rupp Arena Tuesday night.

"We've got a lot of rivals. But the biggest obviously is Kentucky. Every school in the SEC brings its ‘A' game against us now and there are no easy games in this conference. Every night you can win or you can get blown out. But there is definitely something special for our team, and especially for me, about playing in Rupp Arena," Lofton said.

Lofton knew when he went to Tennessee that football was the top sport — and always would be. However, he hopes his play has at least helped make more fans pay attention to basketball.

"This town is always a football town. That's just tradition. We are not going to change that this year no matter what we do. But we can still have a top basketball team, too. I would never say Tennessee has become a basketball school, but basketball is on the rise and it's nice to know I have been part of that," Lofton said.

Lofton will have a lot of fans in Rupp Arena Tuesday night — and should. He's a classy kid who has had a fabulous collegiate career. Sure, it would have been nice to have seen him playing for the Cats, but it didn't happen.

"You can't look back at what didn't happen," Lofton said. "I'm just glad to be at Tennessee and part of what I hope is a special team. I have a lot of good memories of Rupp Arena, but it certainly would be great if we could find a way to win my last game at Rupp. That would be one of those special memories you cherish."

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