Tennessee crushes UGA behind Lofton

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Chris Lofton hit seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 27 points as No. 3 Tennessee rolled to an 85-69 victory over Georgia on Saturday night.

It was the seventh straight win for the Volunteers (17-2, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) over the Bulldogs (11-6, 2-2), who were playing their first SEC road game and first Top 25 opponent.

Lofton, who has only averaged 13.8 points this season compared to 20.8 as a junior, hit his first 3-pointer 2 1/2 minutes in to put the Vols up 5-2.

He didn't stop there. Lofton finished the half with 20 points after going 7-for-9 from the field including 6-for-8 on 3-pointers. With every 3 he made, Thompson-Boling Arena erupted into cheers.

His 20 first-half points nearly matched Georgia as Tennessee took a 44-23 lead.

Tennessee built on its lead in the second half with help from Tyler Smith's 17 points and nine rebounds.

Sundiata Gaines led Georgia with 20 points while Billy Humphrey and Dave Bliss both added 15 points, and Chris Barnes grabbed nine rebounds.

Georgia's only lead came on a dunk by Jeremy Price, the first score of the game. Tennessee answered with a 15-2 run that ended on Lofton's second 3 of the game with 12:04 in the first.

Tennessee entered the game averaging 35 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Vols made 45 percent of their 3s against Georgia, which has allowed opponents to shoot 31.8 percent from 3-point range.

Tennessee shot 57.1 percent from the field while Georgia hit 40.6 percent from the field, only 18.2 percent on 3s.

The Vols continued to struggle on the boards as the Bulldogs outrebounded them 24-19.

Duke Crews returned to the Vols for the first time since Dec. 4, earning a standing ovation from the fans. Crews was held out of practice and games after a medical test found a heart condition that needed to be reviewed.

Crews finished with nine points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes.

Most of the 21,099 in attendance had left by the end of the game, but the ones who stayed got to see Vols forward Ryan Childress propose to his girlfriend, surrounded by his chanting teammates.