Vols confident, despite 0-1 SEC start

Believe it or not, Tennessee's solid showing in Wednesday night's 74-71 loss to No. 20 Kentucky did nothing to convince the Vols that they're a good basketball team.

''We ALREADY believed that we're a good team,'' senior guard Jon Higgins said. ''Maybe it does something to the other teams in the conference to let them know that we're not to be taken lightly. But we always believed we can go out there and play with anybody, and that's what we're going to try and do.''

When asked why the Wildcats were able to nip the Vols at the finish, Higgins had a ready answer.

''We just didn't make some plays we need to make at the end,'' he said. ''We did what we wanted to on defense. We just didn't execute on offense.''

Despite their 0-1 SEC record, the Vols should gain from their near-miss against the Big Blue.

''I think so,'' Higgins said. ''Kentucky's the 20th-ranked team in the country, and we had 'em down to the wire. Hopefully, the young guys can build some confidence off this to really believe we can play with everybody.''

As disappointing as Wednesday night's loss was, the Vols must put it behind them as they prepare for Saturday's visit to Ole Miss.

''We can't sit here and dwell on this game,'' Higgins said. ''If we do that, we're really going to get smacked on Saturday.''

Fellow senior Ron Slay thinks the Vols will bounce back in the weeks ahead, especially if teams continue to view Tennessee as a second-rate program.

''If people keep second-guessing us,'' he said, ''I think we're going to sneak up on a lot of people.''

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