Boo Bradshaw?

Since he posted a career game (21 points, 10 rebounds) while being booed unmercifully last January at Memphis, will he have another big game if Tennessee fans boo him in Wednesday's Vol-Tiger rematch at Thompson-Boling Arena?

Tennessee forward Dane Bradshaw laughed at the memory AND the question. An off-the-cuff comment about playing in front of "gang-bangers" during his high school days at Memphis White Station got him showered with boos as he took the floor in his hometown 11 months ago. Apparently spurred by the insults, he turned in his career game. Still, he has no plans to get himself booed by Vol fans Wednesday night.

"I'm not dumb enough to say anything bad about Knoxville," he said with a laugh. "A lot of times I thrive off boos on the road but, of course, you never want to be booed in front of your home crowd."

Bradshaw called last year's incident in Memphis "unfortunate," but said it has no bearing on the Knoxville rematch.

"This year we're just focused on trying to get a huge win," he said, respectfully noting that Memphis "is already at the level we're trying to reach."

Although he says he is "motivated for EVERY game," Bradshaw admits that this nationally televised outing (9 o'clock tip-off on ESPN2) represents "kind of a golden opportunity to show some home-town folks what I'm doing up here in Knoxville."

It also represents a golden opportunity for the youthful Vols to prove themselves against the talented Tigers.

"It's huge because they're going to be a top NCAA Tournament team," Bradshaw said. "They're going to be highly ranked. It's such a powerful program that this game means a lot for our program."

Tennessee played the heavily favored Tigers surprisingly tough 11 months ago before losing 88-79. Vol junior Chris Lofton hasn't forgotten how close the Big Orange came to springing a huge upset.

"We just couldn't knock down the big shots, and I was part of that," he said. "Hopefully, we can get it together this time."

Wednesday's rematch is expected to attract a rabid crowd of 20,000-plus to Thompson-Boling Arena.

"We should sell the place out," Lofton said, "and have things rocking in here. Playing on the road is fun but there's nothing like being in front of your own fans. They give you that extra lift ... that sixth man. I'm looking forward to Wednesday."

So is Bradshaw.

"We're just real excited about the atmosphere we're going to have," he said. "I'm eager for the freshmen to experience just how loud Thompson-Boling can get and how the fans embrace us at times like this."


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