Can Vols get up for Georgia?

The Tennessee Vols are coming off one of the most emotionally draining victories in program history – Tuesday's home-floor upset of No. 5 Florida in a memorable "Senior Night" send-off for fan favorite Dane Bradshaw.

They are assured of an NCAA Tournament bid and a good seeding, thanks to a terrific RPI and a 21-9 record that includes several so-called "quality wins."

Given all of this, how can Tennessee get "up" for Saturday's regular-season finale at Georgia? That's a good question. The Vols cannot possibly match the emotional peak they achieved against the Gators. And, with an NCAA bid locked up, they no longer have the incentive of fighting their way off "the bubble."

So, what's to keep Tennessee from merely going through the motions Saturday against the Bulldogs?

"It's our last SEC game, and we want to win that one," junior guard Chris Lofton said. "You play every game to win it. We can't take them for granted. They're a great basketball team. They played us good here."

Indeed. Georgia trailed by just seven points (55-48) with 9:16 to go Jan. 31 in Knoxville before Tennessee used a strong finishing kick to win 82-71.

Although the Vols already clinched an NCAA Tournament bid, Lofton insists there's still plenty of incentive to play well Saturday in Athens.

"Just continue to win and play for a seed," he said. "You play for a better seed."

Lofton and his teammates surely remember what happened to them under similar circumstances last season. Following an emotional upset of Florida at Gainesville, the Vols suffered a home-floor loss to a mediocre Arkansas team. Tennessee never recovered, ultimately losing four of its last six games.

The Vols are determined to avoid another finishing fade this season. They want their confidence to be soaring as they head into the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

"You want to be playing your best basketball toward the end of the year," Bradshaw said. "But, on that note, I know that all of the headlines are going to start to change if we go down and play poorly at Georgia. All of a sudden, we're wondering if we're going on the down-slide."

On a personal level, Bradshaw has plenty of incentive for Saturday's game. It represents his final regular-season outing as a Vol and a chance to put together back-to-back strong offensive performances for the first time in ages. After making just 7 of 55 field-goal tries in Games 19 through 30, he went 3 for 3 en route to 10 points vs. Florida.

"I'm just happy to get back rolling a little bit, and feel like I'm contributing to the team," he said. "Slump is an understatement for the way I've been shooting lately."

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