Good news for UT

Now that the disappointment of Tennessee's nationally televised 68-66 loss to No. 5 Ohio State Saturday afternoon in Columbus has had time to fade a bit, perhaps it's time to look on the bright side:

Good news, Part 1: Tennessee lost the backboard battle 46-29, made just 22.6 percent from 3-point range and just 45.5 percent from the foul line, yet played the No. 5 team in America to a two-point loss on its home floor. That shows remarkable determination and resourcefulness.

Good news, Part 2: Tennessee is unlikely to have another game in which it sinks just 7 of 31 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The Vols were making treys at a 37-percent clip coming in.

Good news, Part 3: Tennessee almost certainly will never lose another game because of a missed Chris Lofton free throw in the final minute. He shot 91 percent from the foul line last season and is one of the NCAA's best from the stripe.

Good news, Part 4: Tennessee will not have to face Greg Oden – or anyone of his caliber – again this season ... unless the Vols and Buckeyes meet in NCAA Tournament play.

Oden, projected as the No. 1 pick in the next National Basketball Association Draft, lived up to his hype against the Vols. He produced 24 points and 15 rebounds with exactly half of the points coming on rim-rattling dunks.

The last time the Vols encountered a big man so imposing was during Shaquille O'Neal's tenure at LSU. Tennessee will not face a player as dominating as Oden again this season.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis of LSU is a hoss but, at 6-8 and 280 pounds, he's four inches shorter and considerably less explosive than Oden.

Florida has two excellent inside players – 6-11, 230-pound Joakim Noah and 6-8, 235-pound Al Horford – but neither can take over a game the way Oden can.

Alabama also has two quality big men – 6-10, 220-pound Jermareo Davidson and 6-8, 265-pound Richard Hendrix – but Davidson lacks Oden's heft and Hendrix lacks Oden's height.

Kentucky has a player who nearly matches Oden in size – 6-11, 266-pound Randolph Morris – but he's nowhere near as talented.

The Vols will meet a lot of gifted players during the next two months but none will pose the match-up problems Oden did. That's got to be a comforting thought as the Big Orange prepares for the games still to come.

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