Lofton, Tennessee bomb away on N.C. A&TNov 28, 2007 - 5:20 AM KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Not even Chris Lofton's decision to stay away from the basket could stop Tennessee from getting back on track.
Lofton scored 24 points despite mainly attempting 3-pointers as the 12th-ranked Volunteers rolled to a 93-59 victory over North Carolina A&T on Tuesday.
With the win, Tennessee (6-1) rebounded from a 97-78 loss against Texas in the title game of the Legends Classic on Saturday.
"Tennessee played well tonight," North Carolina A&T coach Jerry Eaves said. "I thought they bounced back from their Texas loss, and came out with a lot of energy."
Opting to stay behind the arc on the offensive end, Lofton caught fire in the first half, connecting on a season-high six 3-pointers en route to 18 points.
The senior guard did miss his first four shots of the game, enabling the Aggies to grab an 11-10 lead just over six minutes into the contest.
Yet, Lofton found his range shortly thereafter, knocking down his next six attempts from the arc to give the Vols a 32-15 lead with 8:18 remaining.
"For five or six minutes, we were able to hold our own and run our backdoors," Eaves said. "But once they figured those things out, their length and their speed began to affect us."
Tyler Smith added 12 of his 17 points in the first half as Tennessee built a 52-22 advantage at the half.
Along with converting 16 turnovers by their opponent into 19 points in the opening 20 minutes, the Vols knocked down 10-of-33 3-pointers on the way to setting a school record for attempts from the arc.
Overall, Tennessee went 14-of-50 (28.0 percent) from long range, with Lofton taking 20 of them by himself. The reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, he surpassed his own school record for 3-point attempts of 18 vs. Wichita State in a second-round loss in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
"If we had shot well tonight, we could have had some good numbers," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "Of the 50 3-pointers we tried, they were mostly open. North Carolina A&T invites you to shoot the 3-pointer. They are an up-tempo team, but we did a decent job of stopping them. This team pressed us a lot tonight, and we welcome other teams pressing us the rest of the season."
Surprisingly, Lofton was scolded by Pearl for not taking some long-range shots early on.
"Early in the game, I jumped Lofton for turning down some 3-pointers," Pearl said. "He had mostly pretty good shots, and it was good to see him hitting them so well."
North Carolina A&T (4-3) did open the second half with an 11-2 burst to close within 54-33, but the rally proved shortlived.
"I think my team did well," Eaves said. "We limited them to 41 points in the second half. We want to run up and down and score the ball, and we became a little more comfortable and scored at a better rate."
While Tennessee was looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season, North Carolina A&T were looking to build off a big win, beat DePaul, 96-93, on the road Saturday behind 40 points by senior guard Steven Rush.
That fact never left the mind of Pearl, especially when his club got out to a big lead.
"North Carolina A&T is a team who we knew could rally," he said. "They beat DePaul Saturday, and Steven Rush had 40 points in that game. But we held him to 4-for-16 tonight, and we feel good about that."
Rush finished with eight points, going 0-of-8 from the arc.
Jason Wills was the only player in double figures with 11 points for the Aggies, who shot 25-for-56 (44.6 percent), but made just 2-of-18 3-pointers.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
NC A&T 22 37 59
TENNESSEE (12) 52 41 93 FINAL
Nov 27 9:33 PM
- NCAA BB
NC A&T 22
(12) TENNESSEE 52 HALFTIME
Nov 27 8:27 PM
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