Ironically, if Tennessee had played as hard or performed as well throughout the 2004-2005 campaign as it did in the Georgia Dome against Arkansas (18-12), Peterson's job wouldn't be in jeopardy. Instead they were mostly inconsistent in the areas of effort and execution and stand at 14-16 on the year.
That wasn't the case against the Razorbacks as the Vols wiped out a 13-8 deficit behind a 21-2 run midway through the first half and never let that cushion fall below 10 points. Scooter McFadgon, who hit consecutive triples to cap the run, paced Tennessee's offense with a game-high 22 points, hitting 4-of-7 shots from 3-point range. Fellow senior Brandon Crump added 16 points and seven rebounds. The veteran duo's collective 38-point production was only eight less than Arkansas scored in the game.
It's been a while since we've had the whole team together," Peterson said after the game. "We had Brandon out and Scooter missed four games. Tonight our seniors carried us."
Tennessee eliminated Arkansas by controlling the boards and connecting on three-point field goals. The Vols held a 37-22 lead in rebounds, including a commanding 19-7 advantage on the offensive glass, while making 8-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc compared to 1-of-13 by the Hogs. Andre Patterson led UT with eight boards, while Crump and McFadgon pulled down seven rebounds each. Crump also knocked down a trey in the first half as the Vols rolled to a 34-24 lead at intermission.
"What we did differently this time was box out," Peterson said of his team's board work. "We played a lot of 2-3 zone tonight. We don't usually like to play zone but we did a good job ot it tonight."
Every defense the Vols deployed worked well as they held the Razorbacks to 38 percent from the field and its lowest point output of the season. All-SEC guard Ronnie Brewer was limited to 10 points on the night, joining freshman center Darian Townes (10 points) as the only Arkansas players in double figures.
When asked about the pressure he's under with his job status in question, Peterson said: "My focus is on trying to get the players ready to play. Those guys have a lot of character. That's why we recruited them."
There will be no better chance to prove their character to UT faithful than a contest against Kentucky.