BAKSETBALL: Scouting Chris Lofton

6-2, 200 pounds • Senior • Maysville, Kent. The reigning Southeastern Conference player of the year got off to a slow start, but Tennessee guard Chris Lofton has re-established himself as a deadly scorer the past few weeks.

Lofton has put up 20 or more points in five of the past six games by regaining the 3-point touch that has made him the best long-range shooter in league history. He is averaging a team-high 15.7 points, which is off his pace from 2006 (17.2) and 2007 (20.8). But his season turned during Tennessee's loss to Kentucky. He scored 22 points against the Wildcats, kicking off a six-game stretch in which he is averaging 22.2 points a game and is shooting 52.6 percent from 3-point range.

"He's tremendous," coach John Pelphrey said. "He's as good of a 3-point shooter that's ever played in this league. That's why he's made more than anybody else to ever lace them up."

Strengths

With that said, it's no secret what Lofton does best. He makes a living behind the 3-point line. Of his 1,369 shots, 916 have come from 3-point range. That is 66.9 percent of his field goal attempts.

What's more, Lofton is remarkably accurate from long range. He has made 42.8 percent of the 3-pointers in his career.

"He does it just with a knack, a gift," Pelphrey said. "He's always kind of leaning backwards. He can do it off the bounce, do it off the catch, in transition, halfcourt. He's really good with those dribble handoffs that they do. I don't know if anybody's made more with a hand in their face than Chris Lofton."

Weaknesses

Lofton's strength has been his weakness at times. He is shooting a career-low, 40 percent from the field and 39.1 percent behind the 3-point line this season. And when Lofton's 3-point shot isn't falling, his offense often struggles because he relies so much on the long bombs.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said part of Lofton's problem early on was that he wasn't being assertive on offense. Most of the Vols' opponents took away the 3-point line and Lofton struggled to get open and failed to make much of an impact. He scored less than 15 points in 11 of Tennessee's first 17 games.

How to Play Him

Lofton doesn't need much room to get off a shot, which makes it even harder to guard him. So does the fact that he's not shy about shooting it anywhere on the court.

"Where he's at a lot of times, it's not like you want to go out that far anyway," Pelphrey said. "He's a little bit of a different animal in terms of the depth he can shoot it from."

Arkansas' guards must know where Lofton is at all times, whether it's in transition or a halfcourt set. The Hogs will play man-to-man and zone defenses, but, either way, must stay in Lofton's face in hopes of limiting his success.

The Skinny

Lofton will long be remembered as one of the best shooters to ever play in the SEC. Maybe even in NCAA history.

He holds every shooting record at Tennessee and set the SEC's career mark for 3-pointers attempted and made against LSU and Kentucky, respectively, last month. His 392 3-point field goals also ranks seventh in NCAA history.

Lofton needs 68 points to reach 2,000 for his career, which would make him the sixth player in school history to reach the plateau. The list also includes Vols greats like Allen Houston, Ernie Grunfeld, Tony White, Reggie Johnson and Dale Ellis.

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