VAUGHT: Vols say Rupp Arena still special

Tennessee stars Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith don't agree with some who think Rupp Arena has lost its mystique because of the games the Wildcats have lost at home in recent seasons.

"I feel this rivalry is big with Kentucky, especially when you go to Rupp Arena. It's loud in there, especially when you are the away team," said Chism as he prepares for Saturday's game at Rupp Arena.

"When Kentucky is on a run, the crowd is on a run with them. We have to go in and play our game. If we do, we can beat them. It is tough to play at their place and anybody who says anything different is just not telling the truth."

Smith admits he was a bit overwhelmed when he first went to Rupp Arena.

"It was amazing. All those fans really show support for their guys. We came out with a loss that I didn't like, but playing in an atmosphere like that was something. Rupp Arena is an arena that everybody knows. It is so historic. It was great just to play there," he said.

"It was loud in there. It was a great game with Kentucky last year. It would have been a great game to watch from the stands. Being able to play the University of Kentucky in Rupp Arena was just a great feeling. Some people had tried to tell me it would not be that big a deal, but it was."

Now Smith would like to help Tennessee win at Rupp Arena this year and atone for Tennessee's home loss to UK last month when Jodie Meeks scored 54 points.

"I hope we do play better. I think by us being able to play there last year and knowing the crowd noise will help us. A lot of our freshmen, you don't know how they will do this year. We will work with them to get them ready. We have at least three or four freshmen that are going to play and your first trip to Rupp Arena definitely is not easy," Smith said.

Chism hopes UK standout Patrick Patterson is back from the game and recovered from his ankle injury.

"I like playing against him. I played pretty good at that arena last year. I was not going to back down and I like playing physical players like Patterson. I thought we were going to win, but they just kept making their runs. I want to beat them this year and want them at their best so we can really feel good about what we do," Chism said.

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