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Coach Hulk couldn't smash through SEC barrier, will NCAAs be any different?

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Silly me, I had plans for Saturday. As of about 7 p.m. Thursday, I was going to the Georgia Dome to see the Vols play in the SEC semis. I hadn't bought tickets, but I had made arrangements. But here it is Sunday, and I still haven't gotten over the fact that Tennessee took yet another early exit from the SEC tournament. One-and-done. A cup of coffee.

Was it presumptuous of me to assume UT would make it to Saturday? Maybe, but why not? Tennessee was the hottest team in the SEC going into the tourney. We were 8-2 in our last 10 games, including wins over Vandy, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, and oh, yeah, Thursday's opponent, LSU. We had the SEC Player of the Year and SI's All-Glue guy.

It gets worse, too. Tennessee has a winning (3-2) record against the teams that made the SEC semis and is 2-1 against Florida and Arkansas, the teams vying for the championship today. All of those Ls came without Chris Lofton on the court, something Tennessee doesn't have to worry about currently.

The bottom line is, while I didn't have any delusions of Tennessee winning the SEC crown, they certainly have the talent to. And they certainly should have been playing on the weekend. This basketball team was playing better at the end of its regular season than the football team was playing at the end of theirs, and not making it to the SEC semifinals is no less a failure than the football Vols losing the Outback Bowl. At least this teams seems to get that, according to what the players were saying after the game:

"It's going to be a long weekend with this loss," JaJuan Smith said. "But when the NCAA Tournament comes, it's a new season. We've just got to try and turn this thing around. LSU came out and made us play their type of ball, and we just fell right into the trap."

"We can turn it back on, and we've responded well in the past," Bradshaw said. "Right now, we feel the way we should feel after a loss. We feel badly for the fans who were down here and were planning to come down here."

Thanks, Dane. But the truth is that for Tennessee to have any more success in the NCAAs than they had in Atlanta, it will take more than talk.