No-lull zone

Tennessee got off to a fast start Saturday against Ole Miss, then suffered a mental lapse that let the Rebels back in the game. The lull wasn't fatal vs. Ole Miss but a similar one Tuesday night at Kentucky could be.

"I think we got comfortable a little bit," senior point guard C.J. Watson said, recalling how UT squandered much of a 22-point first-half lead before finally subduing Ole Miss 86-72. "That's something we have to stop doing. We can't keep turning the switch on and off."

If the switch goes off Tuesday night at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats' rabid fans will get loud and the Big Blue will get active. That combination enabled UK to come from behind to beat South Carolina and Arkansas earlier this year, despite being outplayed by each team.

If the Vols can get off to a good start Tuesday against Kentucky they'd better not relax the way they did against Ole Miss. Tennessee played perhaps its best seven minutes of basketball this season to open the Rebel game, recording six teals in bolting to a 21-4 lead.

"That was a big stretch for us," Watson said. "We came out with a lot of energy, attacking ‘em and being aggressive, pressing ‘em, making ‘em turn the ball over and getting some easy baskets."

Fellow guard JaJuan Smith said the Vols were highly motivated in the opening minutes.

"We knew how much the game meant to us," he said. "Everybody knew we needed win big, so we came out with that firepower."

The Vols went to the half leading 46-27 but lost their intensity – and much of their lead – thereafter.

"The first half was excellent," Watson noted. "The second half was probably the worst we've played. We came out and played kind of lackadaisical. Our defense wasn't up to par and our offense was turning the ball over and making some horrible passes."

Smith echoed those sentiments, noting: "We got that big lead and didn't come out the second half with that same energy like the score was zero-zero. We're disappointed in ourselves."

Perhaps that disappointment will prevent a relapse Tuesday night. Rupp Arena is a no-lull zone for visitors hoping to leave Lexington with a victory.


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