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Howell's shooting helps Tennessee stave off Chattanooga

Dec 5, 2007 - 4:50 AM CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Jordan Howell borrowed a page from Chris Lofton to fend off a feisty Chattanooga squad.

Howell hit a pair of 3-pointers during a decisive second-half run as No. 12 Tennessee escaped with a 76-70 victory at Chattanooga on Tuesday.

Despite entering the contest off a pair of impressive wins over North Carolina A&T and Louisiana-Lafayette, the Volunteers (8-1) found themselves in a battle after the Mocs scored on their first four possessions of the second half, taking a 41-38 lead on a layup by Nicchaeus Doaks with just 1:50 expired.

Closing in on Tennessee's record for career 3-pointers, Lofton buried a shot from the arc and Tyler Smith added a layup during a 9-3 run which returned the lead to the Vols at 47-44 with 15:13 left.

Yet, Chattanooga (4-4) would not go away easily, moving within a point following a layup by Matt Gwynne just 22 seconds later.

A senior guard, Howell surprisingly stepped up thereafter, connecting on consecutive 3-pointers toward the start of a 14-3 run. Averaging 7.3 points coming in, Howell capped the burst with a free throw, making it 61-49 with 7:36 remaining.

The Mocs, who finished with 34 turnovers, could get not closer than the final margin thereafter.

Howell finished with three 3-pointers and 12 points, continuing a strong stretch for the first-time starter. He was coming off a career-high 17 points with five 3-pointers on eight attempts in a 98-70 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday.

Lofton scored 16 points despite going just 4-of-12 from the arc for Tennessee, which shot just 36.4 percent (24-of-66), including 11-of-37 from the arc.

It was a season low in shooting for the Vols, who entered the contest 48.7 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from the arc.

With his latest effort, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year closed within five 3-pointers of tying the school record of 346 held by former NBA player Allan Houston.

JaJuan Smith chipped in 13 points for the Vols, closing within four points of becoming the 40th player in school history to reach the 1,000 for his career.

Stephen McDowell had 14 points and Marcus Watts chipped in 13 for Chattanooga, which had beaten Tennessee, 69-66, in the previous meeting in Knoxville on December 5, 2004, snapping the Vols' 23-game winning streak in the series.

Playing in Chattanooga for the first time in more than 25 years, when it spoiled the opening of McKenzie Arena with a 55-49 victory on December 1, 1982, Tennessee could not take advantage of Chattanooga's sloppy play earlier on.

Although the Mocs turned over the ball 21 times in the first half, the Vols held a 34-33 lead at the break.

Tennessee got better after the break, converting 13-of-16 free throws. It finished 17-of-22 (77.3 percent) at the stripe and collected 17 steals.