Buzz counting on loud crowd

Tennessee's home crowd played a key role in last Saturday's 66-59 upset of fourth-ranked Florida, and Vol head man Buzz Peterson is hoping for more of the same in this Saturday's showdown with Alabama (2 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena).

''Hopefully, we'll have another big crowd ... a good attendance to back this team, so we can pick up another home win,'' he said. ''We need to take care of home court. It's very important.''

The crowd undoubtedly contributed to UT's defeat of Florida. Peterson admits as much.

''When I walked in there with two minutes left to the start of the game, it was a different feel in the gym,'' he said. ''Even though we got behind eight points (down 8-0 in the opening two minutes), the crowd was still loud.

''When (Jon) Higgins hit the 3, made the steal and Elgrace (Wilborn) dunked the ball, I turned to one of the assistants and said, 'Can you believe this?' It was so loud ... I really believe that helped us play good, solid defense down the stretch. Those last 12 minutes may have been as fine a defense as we've played all season.

''It was a big boost to have the students and fans behind us.''

In addition to boosting the home team, a loud crowd can have a detrimental effect on the visiting team. Thus, a rabid fan following is something of a double-whammy.

''I think our guys like that, and it's tough on an opponent -- a big crowd like that that's vocal and loud,'' Peterson said. ''I really appreciate what everybody's done to get behind this team ... the students and fans. Win or lose, I think everybody appreciates the hard work they've done.''

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