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Fans’ energy could play role in helping Cats against Tennessee

Lynn Bowden will be looking for more running room against Tennessee Saturday night. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

The one disappointing blip on Kentucky’s 10-3 record last year was a 24-7 loss at Tennessee a week after Georgia beat UK to knock the Cats out of SEC East title contention.

It wasn’t just that a not very good Tennessee beat UK, it was the way the Vols manhandled a listless Kentucky team that didn’t score until the final two minutes to do nothing but make the score a little bit more respectable for then No. 12 Kentucky.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops knows his team understands the importance of Saturday night’s game in Lexington against Tennessee. Kentucky is 4-4 and needs at least two more wins to reach a fourth straight bowl under Stoops.

“They feel the energy of our fan base, and it’ll be nice to be at home and have a great crowd and play well at home,” Stoops said Monday. “That’s our focus, but we will touch on that a bit. We won’t overdo it, but I will talk to them about that.”

Give Stoops credit for not downplaying the impact last year’s loss will have on his team’s preparation — or should have.

“I think it always does. We don’t go back much with streaks and things of that nature like y’all (in the media) like to do, but we do go back to a year ago just because it’s recent film against a common opponent,” Stoops said.

Did the coach learn anything from last year’s butt-kicking in Knoxville?

“I don’t really want to go back there. I beat myself up long enough about that a year ago, so we’re on to this year, but definitely, you need to learn each and every time you get an opportunity to learn and grow. You have to use that as well,” Stoops said.

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