Knoxville, TN – Tennessee found itself left out of the big dance and has to settle for a spot in the NIT. UT had been considered a tourney lock several weeks ago but a combination of a four game losing streak, the loss of Jon Higgins, and a forgettable performance in a 66-53 loss to Auburn in the SEC Tournament left the Vols on the bubble and their bubble burst Sunday afternoon when fellow SEC bubble teams Auburn and Alabama made it in.
The Vols (17-11, 9-7 SEC) will be making their 10th appearance in the NIT and first since 1996. With this year’s NIT, UT has earned a postseason tournament bid six of the last eight seasons. UT will face Georgetown (15-14) Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Thompson-Boling arena. This first ever meeting between the two programs will be carried on ESPN2. Georgetown lost to 11th ranked Syracuse 74-69 in the Big East Conference Tournament after beating Villanova 47-41.
UT Coach Buzz Peterson was disappointed about the NCAA, but is keeping a positive outlook on the post-season chances for the Vols. “Our goal right now is to do well in the NIT. 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.” Peterson has a good idea how to keep his players motivated, prior to arriving at UT he coached Tulsa to the 2001 NIT title.
UT reached the NIT Final Four in 1985, advancing to meet Indiana in Madison Square Garden. Tennessee lost 74-67, but came back to beat Louisville 100-84 in the consolation game to secure a third place finish.

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