Vols adopt new theme

After losing four of their last five SEC games, the Basketball Vols stand 3-5 midway through conference play. Still, opportunities remain to salvage the season, beginning with tonight's game against visiting Arkansas (8 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena).

Coach Stan Heath's Razorbacks, like the Vols, are 0-4 in SEC road games. Obviously, that bodes well for Tennessee.

''I'm sure Stan is like I am ... trying to search for that (first) road victory and build some consistency there,'' UT head man Buzz Peterson said. ''But right now, (the focus) is more about us -- getting better as a team, getting our defense better and going on from there.

''We want to make the most out of the second half of the conference season. That's kind of our theme.''

Peterson thinks six SEC teams will get NCAA Tournament bids ... and he thinks Tennessee still could be one of them. Mississippi State (8-1 in league play) is a lock to get one of the bids. Kentucky (6-2), South Carolina (6-3), LSU (6-3) and Florida (5-4) also look good. That leaves one bid to be claimed by either UT (3-5), Vanderbilt (3-5), Alabama (3-5), Georgia (3-6), Arkansas (3-6), Auburn (3-6) or Ole Miss (3-6).

As Peterson noted: ''There's a lot of teams with only three wins.''

One of them likely will get a bid to the Big Dance. If the Vols could turn things around quickly, they still have a chance to be that team.


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