Buzz may buy tickets

Vol basketball coach Buzz Peterson is so determined that UT host a National Invitation Tournament game that he's willing to put his money where his mouth is.

Because Tennessee drew just 3,000 fans for last year's NIT opener against Georgetown, the Big Orange must play this year's NIT opener on the home floor of its opponent, George Mason University of Fairfax, Va.

The winner of Wednesday night's game will play again Friday against either Belmont or Austin Peay. If the Vols make it that far, Peterson is hoping the second-round game will be held in Knoxville.

''I told (Athletics Director) Mike Hamilton that I'd buy as many student tickets -- up to 500 of them -- to get our students to come to the game and support us,'' he said during his Monday news conference. ''I'd be willing to do anything to have the students come to the game and cheer on the team because I know that helps them out tremendously.''

Peterson blames the poor turnout for last year's Georgetown game on the fact UT students were on spring break. He has shared this opinion with the NIT brass. Still, he concedes that this argument may not earn UT a second-round home game.

''If we're fortunate to win, I would assume they (NIT officials) will look and see how Austin Peay draws,'' the Vol coach said. ''If they draw real well (vs. Belmont), they may send us there on Friday.''

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