A smallish but energetic home crowd was an edge in Tennessee's first-round National Invitation Tournament victory Tuesday.
Now the Vols hope for even more help against a tough in-state rival.
UT (19-14) plays Middle Tennessee State (26-6) on Monday (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.).
Tennessee drew 6,289 for its 65-51 win over Savannah State at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The number was small for the program that ranked fifth nationally in attendance at the end of the regular season.
Still, it ranked third among 16 first-round NIT games.
Iowa drew 13,190 for its win over Dayton. Arizona drew 8,433 in an upset loss to Bucknell.
Four games attracted fewer than 2,000 fans. Miami's 1,229 for a win over Valparaiso was the smallest.
"We have the best fans in the nation,'' UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton said Thursday.
"In this case, we found out on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. that we were playing in less than 48 hours.
"We were excited about the turnout, particularly when factoring in such a quick turnaround.''
Round two begins tonight with the field pared to 16. Northwestern visits Washington.
There is one game Saturday, three Sunday and three more Monday.
UT is encouraging fans to purchase tickets online and use the print-at-home option to avoid long lines at the gate Monday night.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at uttix.com.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Seating is general admission.
Tennessee's corner of the bracket boasts familiar faces, starting with the Blue Raiders.
The Vols lead the series 9-1. MTSU's only win was the first meeting, an 85-80 1988 NIT victory in Murfreesboro.
The most recent meeting, Nov. 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee won, 86-56.
The UT-MTSU winner faces the winner between Monday's game between Miami and Minnesota.
Former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith won his 100th game at Minnesota as the sixth-seed Gophers upset three-seed LaSalle in Philadelphia.
Miami, a No. 2 seed, beat Valparaiso. The first-year coach of the Hurricanes is Jim Larranaga, whose George Mason team eliminated the Vols from the 2004 NIT and then went to the NCAA Final Four in 2006.
Arizona was the only No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round. Seton Hall and Washington advanced, along with UT.
Three No. 7 seeds advanced. Iowa, playing at home because Dayton's arena was used in the NCAA tournament, prevailed. Illinois State won in overtime at Ole Miss. Northern Iowa won at Saint Joseph's.
Two other road teams won, Nevada at Oral Roberts and UMass at Mississippi State.
UT was the only first-round winner among four SEC schools. The Big Ten went 3-for-3 with Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern. The Pac-12 went 3-for-4 with Washington, Stanford and Oregon winning.