Tennessee enters tonight's Super Tuesday game against Georgia aiming to end a trio of two-game losing streaks that would help to keep it on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament.
The Vols have lost two straight to the Bulldogs, while the visiting Georgia squad has also won two in a row in Thompson-Boling Arena over the past two seasons.
But of most dire implication today is the two-game skid that UT brings into Tuesday. The Vols entered the stretch with chances to win against No. 3 Florida and at Missouri but came up short in both, marking just the second two-game losing streak all season and the first in SEC play.
With a short turnaround for Tuesday's game set to tip at 9 p.m. and nationally televised on ESPNU, having the right mentality is key for head coach Cuonzo Martin and the Vols.
"The one thing I always try to do as a coach is not dwell on the past," Martin said during Monday's press luncheon. "We watched film on the last game, walked through some things yesterday because when you're talking about an 18-game season in league play, a lot of things happen.
"But you try to focus on the next game, which is easier said than done."
That could be an understatement. Tennessee (15-10, 6-6 SEC) desperately needed at least one win last week, as was showcased by the Vols battling down to the wire in both.
As a result, the team was left win-less and inched closer to having its NCAA bubble popped.
Georgia's recent hot streak proves that another orange-clad letdown might ensue Tuesday night. The Bulldogs (14-10) have won four straight en route to a surprising 8-4 SEC record that includes wins over then-No. 21 Mizzou, LSU and Ole Miss.
Fifth-year Bulldogs' coach Mark Fox's duo of sophomore guards leads the way. Charles Mann leads the team with 13.9 points per game, while Kenny Gaines is right behind with 12 points per contest.
Both guards have stepped into a wide open backcourt after 2013 SEC Player of the Year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bolted for the NBA, but Gaines has caught Martin's eye the most as a potential future star.
"I think Kenny Gaines," Martin said, "he's probably not the level of Caldwell-Pope, but he's a very talented player. And he probably could be that in the next couple of years. The other guys have all returned, Charles Mann is playing really well and getting to the basket."
The Bulldogs' ability to get to the charity stripe is perhaps their most underrated skill. They rank 14th in the nation and second in the SEC in free throws attempted (28.6) per game.
"They're doing a great job of getting to the free throw line," Martin said, "so I think that really helps their team."
UT's woes against Georgia helped lead to another NCAA Tournament absence in 2012-13, as the Bulldogs swept the season series.
This year, it could do the same. With a weak schedule down the stretch, the Vols might fall out of Big Dance contention for good with a third straight loss.
Martin has broken down the film from those defeats but played down the thought that it will loom large in his scouting report.
"I just watched film when we played them last year both times and found some things we need to correct or look in on and be conscious of on both ends of the floor," Martin said. "But I don't say this team has beat us this many times, unless it's something that is pertinent to what we're doing with our scouting report and the game plan."