Can Buzz buck trend?

Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson is hoping to make a strong showing in the SEC basketball tournament this week in Atlanta. To do so, though, he'll have to overcome long odds and historical precedent.

The odds are against him because of this: Even if he beats an 18-win Arkansas team in Thursday's first-round game, he'll have to face Kentucky in Round 2. The Wildcats are 23-4 and ranked third nationally. Peterson beat the Cats the first time he faced them as UT's head man (Feb. 6, 2002 in Knoxville) but has lost seven meetings in a row since then.

Historical precedent doesn't favor the Vols, either. Peterson's record in SEC Tournament play is 1-3, with all of the losses by double-digit margins. He beat Arkansas 68-61 in 2002 before losing his second-round game to Alabama 91-72. He lost a first-round game to Auburn 66-53 in 2003 and was crushed 84-49 by Alabama in first-round play last March.

Tennessee played so poorly in last year's tourney loss to Alabama that Peterson made the Vols stay in Atlanta and attend all four quarterfinal games the following day.

''I wanted to let 'em know what it takes to win in SEC play,'' Peterson said. ''You've got to step it up to another level. They went to every game on Friday, and I fed 'em in between. I don't know how much they liked that but I wanted them to get a feel for how intense some of those teams were playing.''


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