Why UK wins, UT doesn't

There's a reason Kentucky's basketball team wins so much. There's a reason Tennessee's basketball team loses so much.

The Wildcats do three things that usually guarantee victory -- 1) hit the backboards, 2) play defense and 3) give a consistent effort. Conversely, the Vols rarely do all three of these things in the same game. When they do, as was the case in Saturday night's 77-55 defeat of LSU, they win. When they don't, as was the case in their 88-63 homefloor debacle against Vanderbilt one month ago, they lose.

''There's two things you need if you're going to be consistent in this league,'' Vol head man Buzz Peterson said this week. ''One, you've got to be able to play good, solid defense. Guys one through nine have to give you good, solid defense. You've got to have some good athletes, some quickness to pressure the ball and get in the passing lanes. And you need one of two big guys in there who can block some shots.

''The second thing is, you've got to be able to rebound. If you look at one team in our league and what they've been able to do the last three years -- they've been able to defend folks and they've been able to rebound -- and that's Kentucky. They've won 43 of their last 46 games in this league because they do those two things so well. That gives them the consistency they're looking for.''

Peterson then added a third trait common to good teams ... ''consistent effort.'' Thanks to Big Blue head coach Tubby Smith's fiery demeanor, the Wildcats do awfully well in this category, as well. Meanwhile, Tennessee's effort level is like an elevator ... up and down.

Whether the Vols are on an up or a down probably will determine the outcome of Wednesday night's game against No. 11 Alabama. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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