Vols must upgrade D vs. Ole Miss

If Tennessee's basketball team is to beat Ole Miss today in Oxford, the Vols must do a much better job defensively than they did in Wednesday night's 74-71 homefloor loss to Kentucky.

The fact the Big Orange held the Big Blue to a mere 41.7 percent field-goal percentage suggests UT's defense was outstanding. That's only part of the equation, however. Tennessee committed too many fouls (25) and did not box out well on the defensive backboards.

''The bottom line for us is that you can't afford to put someone at the foul line 34 times and expect to win the game,'' head coach Buzz Peterson said. ''Our inability to play defense without fouling really hurt us.''

The head man also conceded that Tennessee must do a better job on the backboards against Ole Miss to avoid an 0-2 start in SEC play. Kentucky outrebounded the Vols 35-27.

''We got outrebounded by eight, and they had 13 offensive rebounds, which is way too many,'' Peterson said. ''When you're going into league play -- with stronger and bigger athletes -- we've got to do a better job.''

Senior forward Ron Slay conceded the point, noting: ''We need (Brandon) Crump and myself to get a few more rebounds. We just need to box out better.''

On a positive note, Peterson was thrilled with the aggressiveness senior guard Jon Higgins exhibited against the Wildcats. Buzz hopes to see more of the same the rest of the season.

''If Jon Higgins comes to play like that every night, I love this ball club,'' Peterson said. ''If he comes out like that every night, we've got a chance to do something in this league. But he's got to bring that every single night ... got to be that aggressive on the offensive end.''

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