Bounce-back time

Dane Bradshaw's tendonitis-plagued shoulders are responding to treatment, which is fortunate for Tennessee. The senior captain may have to put his youthful teammates on his shoulders in the wake of Wednesday's 82-81 loss at Vanderbilt.

If the disappointment of that heart-breaking setback lingers, the Vols could get hammered Saturday at Ohio State. The Buckeyes are 13-3, ranked No. 5 nationally and eager for redemption after losing by three points to third-ranked Wisconsin earlier this week.

Clearly, this is a tricky situation for Tennessee. Clearly, Dane Bradshaw's work is cut out for him.

"I try to lead by example and always try to have a positive influence," he said after doing some informal shooting Thursday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena. "These guys have responded well before, and I expect them to do the same (this time).

"I think we're all having a little bit of a hangover from the loss but we've watched some film and tried to learn from it."

Tennessee was 5-0 in games decided by single-digit margins before losing in Nashville on a last-second tip-in. Asked if that made the loss harder to accept, Bradshaw shrugged.

"We kind of got a dose of our own medicine, I guess," he said. "We can't always be on the receiving end. But there were things throughout the course of the game that could've changed that situation from happening."

Asked to assess the mood of his team, Bradshaw replied: "People were down, and we should be. Everyone was pretty upset, mainly because we realized there were some things done in the second half that could've prevented that last-second play from happening."

Head coach Bruce Pearl canceled Monday's practice. Instead of a workout, the Vols watched film of the Vandy game.

"It's easy to look at film after a win," Bradshaw noted. "It takes some character to learn from a loss but I think that's what we've done."

Tennessee made just 40 percent of its free throws at Nashville, going 6 of 15. Had the Vols shot a mere 66.7 percent (10 of 15), they'd be riding a nine-game winning streak instead of a one-game losing streak. Clearly, their foul shooting was a disaster.

"A lot of times that can be a mental thing," Bradshaw said. "I expect us to knock those down. But I think it was the (12) offensive rebounds Vanderbilt had in the second half (that proved decisive) more than anything."

Regardless, the Vanderbilt loss hit Tennessee hard.

"It's a setback. There were a lot of emotions and some drama," Pearl said. "It was tough. Overall, though, I think we've come together…. There's a lot I was proud about in that game. I was proud of the way they battled back and really, really hung in there."

Still, bouncing back from such a gut-wrenching defeat will be difficult, especially against a foe as formidable as Ohio State.

"We're playing a Final Four team," Pearl said. "This will be an awesome challenge, whether we're coming off a win or bouncing back from a loss."


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