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JuJuan Smith leads Tennessee past Gonzaga

Dec 30, 2007 - 12:58 AM SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Tennessee looked to JaJuan Smith to help open up a close game, and he was happy to oblige.

Smith scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, as No. 12 Tennessee posted an 82-72 victory over Gonzaga on Saturday.

Tyler Smith had 13 points and 11 rebounds and J.P. Prince and Chris Lofton scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Volunteers (12-1), who have won seven straight games since suffering their only defeat - a 97-78 setback at Texas on November 24.

"This is a really good win for our program," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.

After it had a 36-31 lead at the break, Tennessee opened its advantage to 11 on a jumper by Lofton less than three minutes into the second half. However, Gonzaga reduced that deficit back to five on a layup by Matt Bouldin with 14:08 remaining.

The Vols then went on a 16-6 spurt capped by consecutive baskets, including a shot from the arc, by JaJuan Smith for a 61-46 advantage with 10:16 left.

"We have a scoring threat at every position, it's no longer about stopping Chris Lofton," Pearl said. "We now have a two-point dimension that we lacked last year."

The 6-2 senior, who went 6-of-12 from the floor, made his final 3-pointer just over four minutes later for a 72-58 cushion.

"I thought JuJuan had such a solid game," Pearl said. "And Prince did a nice job getting to the foul line, shooting 12 of our 15 foul shots."

Bouldin, who led the Bulldogs with 21 points, drilled a 3-pointer to cut Gonzaga's deficit to 76-71 with 1:19 left, but four free throws by Prince in the final 50 seconds helped push Tennessee's lead back to double digits.

"Our defense in the second half let us down," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "That's two in a row that we could not stop a team after halftime."

The Vols shot 49 percent (31-of-63) compared to 42 percent (22-of-52) for the Bulldogs (9-4).

"They had a lot of weapons," Bouldin said. "We weren't getting back on defense in the second half."