Lofton’s hot hand leads Vols past Bulldogs
Athens, GA (Sports Network) – Chris Lofton scored over 30 points for the
second time this week, as the guard’s 33-point performance pushed No. 11
Tennessee past Georgia, 83-78, at Stegeman Coliseum.
Lofton poured in 31 points, including a 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc, in
the Volunteers’ 75-67 victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night at Rupp Arena.
The victory marked a changing of the guard in the SEC, as head coach Bruce
Pearl — clad in his bright orange jacket — and Tennessee took a three-game
lead on the Wildcats in the conference race.
Pearl was not bright orange from head to toe on Saturday, but Lofton picked up
right where he left off. The guard drained 9-of-12 from beyond the arc and
Andre Patterson added 15 points while C.J. Watson tallied 11 for Tennessee
(18-3, 9-1 SEC), which won its seventh straight game and stayed two games
clear of Florida in the SEC East race.
Levi Stukes led Georgia (14-9, 4-6) with 20 points and Younes Idrissi added 16
points as Georgia’s two-game winning streak was halted. Sundiata Gaines netted
13 points and pulled down seven rebounds as the Bulldogs failed to hit the
.500 mark in conference play and missed out on an opportunity to add a quality
win to their fading NCAA tournament resume.
In a game of spurts, Tennessee went on an important scoring stretch early
in the second half then withstood a late Georgia charge. Leading 38-33, the
Vols went on a 16-3 run to take a commanding lead. Lofton’s long-distance
shooting was instrumental in the burst, as the guard connected on two threes.
Patterson scored two baskets and Dane Bradshaw’s two free throws gave
Tennessee a 54-36 lead with 15:16 left.
The Bulldogs responded with a 25-11 run to pull within four. Stukes drained
three treys during the spurt including the three that cut the deficit to 65-61
with 6:01 left.
The game remained close down the stretch and Stukes’ two free throws again
made it a four-point game, 79-75, with 24 ticks left. However, Lofton made two
free throws with 23 seconds remaining and Mike Mercer missed a three with 17
seconds to play to seal the Vols’ victory.
Terrance Woodbury made back-to-back layups to spur Georgia to an early 19-7
lead. It didn’t last long, as Tennessee scored the next 12 points capped by
Lofton’s three to square the contest.
Lofton then made three treys in just over one minute and Tennessee took a
38-29 lead into the half.
Tennessee leads the all-time series 83-51…The Bulldogs defeated Tennessee,
89-76, in Knoxville on January 11…JaJuan Smith had 10 points in the
victory…Mercer added 10 points in the loss…The Vols made 21-of-27 from the
charity stripe…Tennessee outrebounded Georgia 37-25.