'Something to prove'

Several Tennessee basketball players have something to prove tonight against Alabama. Of course, several of them already took a step in that direction during last Saturday's 77-55 defeat of LSU.

Stanley Asumnu wants to prove he can still contribute.

JaJuan Smith wants to prove he's worth the scholarship he earned in preseason.

Dane Bradshaw wants to prove he's athletic enough to do the job.

Asumnu, a little-used junior who appeared glued to the Vol bench, got his first start of the season vs. LSU and responded with 8 points, 4 rebounds and an assist.

''I'm really pleased with Stanley,'' head coach Buzz Peterson said. ''He could've hung it up and gotten negative, just gone through the motions. He's stayed positive through this whole time. When he was called up, he answered and gave us a big lift.''

Smith scored 3 points against LSU, played solid defense and dished out an assist on a spectacular full-speed behind-the-back pass to Andre Patterson.

''JaJuan's intensity on defense ... I just love it,'' Peterson said. ''He puts a lot of pressure on the ball. He's pretty solid. He's at the right spots. His behind-the-back pass ... I'm glad Andre caught it. I might've gone crazy on that. He does the things that are asked of him.''

Bradshaw, a sophomore with limited speed and shooting skills, produced 5 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the LSU game.

''Dane's always been steady,'' Peterson said. ''He works his tail off and does a lot of things that don't show up on the stat sheet. He works hard every single day, and the last three or four weeks you can see where that's paid off.''

Asumnu, Smith and Bradshaw won't earn any all-star recognition but their desire and determination can help Tennessee finish the season on a positive note. As Peterson noted: ''They're hustling, attacking and going hard to the boards.''

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