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Lofton scores 30 as Tennessee tops Fordham

Nov 14, 2006 - 3:56 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Chris Lofton proved to be too hot for Fordham to handle at the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Lofton scored 30 points, including five 3-pointers, and Duke Crews added 11 as No. 24 Tennessee held off a late charge by Fordham for a 78-71 victory in the first round of the tournament.

The Volunteers (2-0) defeated Fordham for the third time in four all-time meetings in their first encounter since December 29, 1989. Tennessee will face UNC-Wilmington in the second round on Tuesday.

After scoring just six points for Tennessee in Friday's 83-52 victory over Middle Tennessee State, Lofton, a first-team preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection, made 9-of-16 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from the arc.

Fordham (1-1) jumped to an early 6-5 lead before the Volunteers went on 13-0 run. Lofton hit a 3-pointer, Ryan Childress scored four points and Crews dunked during the burst.

The Rams used an 8-0 spurt to tie the score, 22-22, with 8:19 remaining in the first half before Lofton became a one-man wrecking crew. The junior guard scored 14 of Tennessee's next 16 points, including three baskets from the arc to help the Volunteers to a 40-28 halftime bulge.

"We made a lot of defensive mistakes in the first half that hurt us," Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg said. "Our game plan was to stop Lofton and let other guys try to hurt us but he's just a tremendous player."

Marcus Stout capped a 7-0 win with a layup to bring Fordham within 75-71 before Lofton and JaJuan Smith made 3-of-4 from the foul line to seal the victory.

Tennessee shot 46 percent (25-of-54) and had a 26-25 rebound edge, but committed 26 turnovers, 12 more than in the opener against Middle Tennessee State.

Brenton Butler made 6-of-13 shots and scored 20 points and Stout added 16 for the Rams, who had 29 turnovers but shot 59 percent (13-of-22) in the second half.

Butler became the first Fordham freshman to score 20 since Stout had 31 in the 2005 Atlantic 10 Tournament against Duquesne.

The contest was far from a classic in terms of fundamentals. The teams combined for 55 turnovers and 51 fouls. Sebastian Greene fouled out for the Rams and five other players finished with four fouls.

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