Vols face Georgetown in NIT

Tennessee's basketball team will play Georgetown in the first round of the NIT Tuesday at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with a 7 o'clock tipoff.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

"We are excited to be playing in the postseason," Tennessee head coach Buzz Peterson said. "Georgetown is a well-respected program from the Big East who will definitely be a challenge. This is a great opportunity to be playing on national television also."

Tennessee (17-11) just missed a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Apparently, the Vols' 66-53 loss to Auburn Friday night in the SEC Tournament sealed UT's doom. Auburn wound up getting the SEC's final bid to ''The Dance.''

Peterson still figures his team has reason to be pleased.

''It's disappointing but I am proud of what these guys have done all season,'' he said. ''No one picked them very high in the SEC East, some people picked them last or fifth. To sit there and say that at least we are going to play in the postseason, there is something to be said for that.''

Since the Vols are dejected about blowing an NCAA bid, they must refocus quickly or they will perform as poorly in the NIT as they did in the SEC Tournament.

''Our goal right now is to do well in the NIT,'' Peterson said. ''It is disappointing because one of the hardest things is when you are a bubble team you have your minds on the NCAAs so what you have to do is get them turned around quickly. You see a lot of those bubble teams lose early in the tournament because they thought they were in the NCAA Tournament but end up in the NIT. That's our job to get our kids to put their minds back together and to be excited to play postseason basketball.''

Senior forward Ron Slay echoed those sentiments.

"We can't feel too sorry for ourselves too long,'' he said. ''We've got to get out there to play.

''We can go out there and make a point. We can let it be known that we did belong in the NCAA Tournament.

''This is another postseason tournament. We have a chance to play some more games. Hopefully, we can be successful.''

For what it's worth, Peterson has a good track record at getting teams refocused for the NIT. He guided Tulsa to the NIT title two years ago.

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