Vols face tall order

Tennessee's basketball players supposedly are on a mission tonight ... but it may be Mission: Impossible. Consider:

* The Vols are facing a Kentucky squad that is clicking on all cylinders. The Cats are 22-3 overall, 13-1 in SEC play and ranked No. 3 nationally.

* The Wildcats are playing at Rupp Arena, and it's Senior Night. Anyone who has attended a Senior Night in Lexington knows how emotionally charged the atmosphere is. Kentucky's record for its last 84 Senior Night games is 80-4.

* Vol head man Buzz Peterson beat Kentucky the first time he faced the Big Blue (76-74 on Feb. 6, 2002 in Knoxville) but has lost six in a row since then. The last two were by 32 points (last February in Lexington) and 22 points (earlier this season in Knoxville).

* Kentucky has won 24 of the last 25 meetings with UT in Lexington. Peterson is 0-3 there, losing by 3 points in 2002, by 12 in 2003 and by 32 in 2004.

* Tennessee limps into Lexington with a 12-15 record, having lost eight of its last 10 games.

* The Vols face the added pressure of playing to save their coach's job. A decision on Peterson's fate reportedly will be announced before the SEC Tournament.

It all adds up to an imposing challenge for a Vol team that has been a huge disappointment to date.

Tonight's game will be televised by JP Sports with an 8 o'clock tipoff.

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