Cuonzo Martin on the upcoming game at Kentucky
Dane Bradshaw still remembers the remarkable feeling from that night six years ago. Watching Kentucky fans exiting Rupp Arena, knowing the game was over, even though the clock hadn't hit zero.
Coach Bruce Pearl, in his orange blazer, shouted one final instruction as Tennessee dribbled out the final seconds of a 75-67 triumph.
"He told us to act like we'd been there before,'' Bradshaw said Monday. "But it was hard, because we hadn't been there before.''
When it comes to beating Kentucky in Rupp, not many people have been there before.
The Vols return to Rupp tonight, their 37th visit since the building opened in 1976-77. They've left a winner only four times.
Some SEC teams have done worse. A few have done better.
Alabama and Florida each have six wins in Rupp to take honors. Alabama's six are more impressive, considering the Tide visits only every other year since the SEC expanded in 1991-92.
LSU has five wins. Georgia joins the Vols at four.
Five schools have two wins. Vanderbilt didn't break through until 2006. Auburn hasn't won in Rupp since 1988.
Ole Miss has celebrated only once, in 1998.
"It's far and away the toughest place I ever played,'' said Bradshaw, "and far and away, the most fun place to get a win at.''
All time, Kentucky is 472-60 in Rupp. Of the 60 losses, only 36 were administered by SEC foes.
Tennessee was the second visitor to win in Rupp (after Utah) in 1977. The Vols won again in 1979, then waited two decades until a 47-46 upset in 1999.
Pearl won his first trip behind Chris Lofton's banner night, but never again.
"We were a team with a ton of confidence,'' Bradshaw said of the outfit that shocked the SEC by winning the Eastern Division.
The current Vols don't appear to carry a ton of confidence to Lexington. They're plagued by turnovers, many of them unforced. Their offense has gone south just as their defense has improved. They haven't won a road game.
Even though they played Kentucky to the wire in Knoxville 17 days ago, at UT win tonight against the No. 1-ranked Wildcats might qualify as the shocker of the college basketball season.
Coach Cuonzo Martin will do everything in his even-keeled arsenal to infuse his team with a jolt of confidence. He'll tell them that if they defend and rebound and take care of the ball, they'll be there at the end and anything can happen.
"You go play, have some fun and compete,'' Martin said. "Going on the road, you want a hostile environment.
"The great ones love that environment.''
Martin has won in Rupp, but not against Kentucky. He helped Purdue win two NCAA tournament games there in 1994.
"I think it'll be exciting,'' he said of coaching against the Wildcats in their den.
That's one way of putting it.
The crowd tonight will exceed 24,000. Orange will be sparse. Communication will be difficult at best and at times impossible.
If the Vols go on a turnover jag like they did in their past two road games at Georgia and Vanderbilt, hide the women and children.
"There's no tougher place to stop a run,'' said Bradshaw.
"There are a lot of places that are tough to play. But at Rupp, it feels like the whole world is caving in on you.''
Pretty much everybody knows the feeling.