Senior Night and seeding

Tennessee set the stage for its home closer with a two-hour practice Tuesday afternoon in Pratt Pavilion. It was a full regimen for the Vols, who will take on Arkansas at seven p.m. Wednesday evening.

Bobby Maze said that he has all the motivation he needs, as the senior point guard will be playing his final home game against Arkansas alongside fellow seniors Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince and Quinn Cannington.

For Bruce Pearl, it will be about one thing: beating the second-place team in the SEC West.

"They're a much better team than they were a year ago," he said. "They're multiple defensively. And they're really hard to guard because of their ball screen offense. They've got depth. They've won at Georgia. Nobody's won at Georgia."

While Maze knows about this game's immediate importance, it isn't just another game for him. For him, it seems as if what everyone who's ever grown up has said is coming true in a visible way. "Life goes by real fast," he said. "I'll never be able to say I can play as a Vol again in that arena.

"We don't need any more motivation."

Yet Maze is also aware that games like this one can be full of distractions.

First among the distractions is the emotional high of beating Kentucky Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at home, a distraction that is easy to quell, Maze said, with a simple phrase.

You're only as good as your last game.

"We played a great game against Kentucky, but if we come out against Arkansas and lose, our seed is going to go down," Maze said.

The Razorbacks themselves can also throw Vols off-guard. It took Mayes' buzzer-beating shot to shut them down in Fayettesville and it was Arkansas that knocked the 2008 Vols out of the SEC Tournament.

While acknowledging what might have been two years ago, Prince said he was focused.

"Looking back at the bigger picture, we would have played Davidson instead of playing Louisville," he said.

"But, no, I'm never nervous (to play against Arkansas). It's just a game, just a game."

Finally, there's the obvious distraction of senior night.

It will be a bittersweet occasion for Prince, who said that former Vol Tyler Smith will be on the mind.

"I always think about Tyler. I think about him every day," Prince said. "I talk to him all the time.

"(It's) not as special because Ty won't be there. It's something we talked about for years."


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