With such a mediocre SEC basketball presence this season, Tennessee has been seemingly able to enjoy at least one game against an overmatched foe each week since the start of league play.
Not this week.
After coming up just short in a 67-58 loss to No. 3 Florida at home on Tuesday, the Tennessee Volunteers must travel to face the Missouri Tigers in a hostile road environment on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Mizzou Arena.
Saturday's game is between two of the SEC's bubble teams. The Vols (15-9, 6-5 SEC) are listed as one of the final teams in the field as of today according to ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi, while Missouri (16-7, 4-6) currently sits on the outside looking in.
With the Vols' postseason fate still very much in flux, Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin commented on the tough turnaround moments after the Vols' loss on Tuesday with short-term memory in mind.
"I just think it's one game at a time," Martin said. "We're off (Wednesday), and then get ready to play against Mizzou at Mizzou – a very talented team.
"But for us, it's one game at a time and that's the only thing you can control."
The Vols would make quite a convincing case to remove their names from the NCAA Tournament field, for the time being at least, with a loss. A defeat Saturday would be UT's third loss in its last four games.
Meanwhile, the Tigers started off the season hot with 10 straight wins but have tapered off since, losing three straight in SEC play before Wednesday night's home win over Arkansas.
Tennessee may be the hotter — or just less cold — team heading into Saturday. But the Vols might still be licking their wounds after a dogfight against Florida on Tuesday in which they laid it all on the line but had missed opportunities bite them in a loss to the nation's third-ranked team.
"I mean, it happens," junior guard Josh Richardson said after the loss. "You can't dwell on it. In the course of the game, when the heat is on, small stuff like that tends to happen. We just have to look forward."
Shutting down Missouri's Jabari Brown, the SEC's second-leading scorer, will be imperative for defensive specialist Richardson and the Vols. The junior Missouri guard averages 20.1 points per game and has hung 20 or more on seven of the Tigers' 10 SEC opponents.
But it won't be Brown's presence that will motivate the Vols, according to Richardson. All it takes is simply the prospect of another all-important game that undoubtedly will loom large for UT's postseason aspirations.
"Every game we approach with a sense of urgency," Richardson said. "We play Missouri on Saturday, and we have to go get this win."
Saturday's game will air live at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.