Play defense or else ...

Disgusted by Tennessee's feeble defensive performance in Saturday's 21-point loss at South Carolina, the Vols' head basketball coach has decided to take a drastic step:

''I'm not happy with the way we played Saturday; I'm not going to stand for it,'' Buzz Peterson said. ''We'd better pick it up.''

To ensure that the Vols ''pick it up'' before facing Kentucky Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena, Peterson has decided that the guys who play the best defense in practice will be in the starting lineup vs. the Big Blue.

''The five guys who give me the defensive effort (on the practice floor) are going to be the five guys who are going to have the privilege of running through the T (as starters),'' he said. ''I'm not going to guarantee they'll be the five who finish the game, but you'll have the privilege of running through the T and getting your name called out (on the Public Address system).''

Toward this end, Peterson and his aides have been grading recent practice films to see which players are giving the best effort on the defensive end of the floor.

Tennessee's defense has been horrendous in its two SEC road tests to date. The Vols allowed South Carolina to shoot 63.6 percent from the floor and 64.7 percent from 3-point range in Saturday's 85-64 loss. A week earlier, they permitted Florida to shoot 64.8 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range in a 95-57 annihilation.

Conversely, in its two SEC home games, Tennessee limited Georgia to 44.4 percent and held Vanderbilt to a paltry 36.1 percent, including a miniscule 19.0 percent from 3-point range.


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