Patriots pumped for UT

Anyone who saw Tennessee's putrid 84-49 loss to Alabama in the SEC Tournament would be excited about facing the Vols -- figuring it's an opportunity to pad your victory total and boost your scoring average.

But that's not why George Mason is pumped about tonight's NIT matchup with the Big Orange. The Patriots are members of the lightly regarded Colonial Athletic Association, so facing a team -- any team -- from the heralded Southeastern Conference is a big deal.

''When I was at Tulsa and the Big League school comes in to play, golly, guys are fired up,'' UT coach Buzz Peterson said. ''It was like the Final Four.''

The game will have extra meaning for two George Mason players who hail from Tennessee. Throw in the fact Wednesday night's game is on the GM's homefloor in Fairfax, Va., and that adds a little more incentive for the Patriots.

''I told our guys, 'They're going to be jacked up to play... and you'd better be,' '' Peterson said. ''They're out to prove they can play at your level.''

Of course, based on UT's showing against Bama, why would anyone want to play at the Vols' level?

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