for this game

JaJuan Smith ignites Tennessee in season-opening win

Nov 10, 2007 - 4:34 AM KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The game got off to a slow start but the season did not for Tennessee.

JaJuan Smith scored 15 points with five steals and Ramar Smith added 14 as No. 7 Tennessee cruised to a season-opening 80-63 victory over Temple on Friday night.

Wayne Chism had 11 points and six rebounds for the Volunteers (1-0), who entered the contest with their highest preseason ranking in school history.

"JaJuan Smith has emerged as our leader," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "He carried us when we needed him."

The Owls jumped out to an early 14-9 lead behind freshman Lavoy Allen, but Allen got into foul trouble and the Volunteers went on a 22-5 run and never looked back.

JaJuan Smith registered all of his points in the first half. Tennessee's defense forced 15 turnovers and held Temple to just 9-of-27 shooting before the break.

"We cannot simulate how hard Tennessee plays on the defensive end, and some of the turnovers they cause," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We have to be a lot more patient, and a lot more careful. I really thought a lot of their scoring happened off of their defense. We have to do a lot better handling that type of pressure.

Guard Josh Tabb converted a tip-in as time expired in the first half as Tennessee took a 39-24 lead into the locker room.

Temple (0-1) managed to close it to a 10-point deficit in the second half, but Tennessee went on an 11-0 run and expanded its lead to 55-34 with 11:36 remaining.

"Tennessee is a really good team," Dunphy said. "They make you do some things on your offense that you are not ready for."

The Volunteers did not get the kind of performance they expected from senior guard Chris Lofton.

Lofton, who is closing in on the school and conference record for 3-pointers, scored just 10 points and shot 0-of-5 from the arc. The reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year's 313 career 3-point field goals are 33 shy of Allan Houston's school record and 53 behind Pat Bradley's conference mark.

Lofton did ignite the crowd midway through the second half when he connected with Tyler Smith on an alley-oop play.

"Chris Lofton worked hard," Pearl said. "His shot is not looking good right now, but I am sure that will not last."

Despite leading the Owls with 12 points, Dionte Christmas did not start his 2007-08 campaign the way he had hoped. Christmas, who led the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring last season, was held scoreless in the first half and did not collect a point until he knocked down a 3-pointer with 17:30 left in the contest.

Mark Tyndale added 11 points for Temple, which shot 39 percent (23-of-59) from the field and just 3-of-18 from the arc.

"Mark Tyndale was 4-for-13 tonight, and Dionte Christmas was 3-for-13. They are the leading scorers returning in the Atlantic 10 conference," Pearl said. "We said before the game we could not let them beat us."

    --- --- -----
    TEMPLE 24 39 63
    TENNESSEE (7) 37 43 80 FINAL

    Nov 9 9:37 PM

    TEMPLE 24

    Nov 9 8:27 PM