Dawgs won't have to face UT's Lofton

ATHENS – In a season that's beginning to look charmed for Georgia's basketball team, the Bulldogs probably get another break Wednesday when they travel to play Tennessee.

Volunteers guard Chris Lofton, the SEC's leading scorer, has missed the last two games with a severe ankle sprain and is doubtful for Georgia's 7:30 p.m. game against the Volunteers (14-7, 2-4 SEC).

Lofton, a junior who is averaging 21.5 points per game, dressed out for practice Monday for the first time since straining two ligaments in his right ankle against South Carolina on Jan. 20.

"I don't think you'd even call it practice, we're just getting him moving for the first time, seeing if he can jog, then Tuesday we'll see what the pain and swelling looks like," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "We really won't know (if he can play) until Wednesday."

After practice, Pearl told The (Nashville) Tennessean that it's very unlikely Lofton will play.

Despite missing the last two-plus games, Lofton still has 14 more 3-pointers than anyone in the SEC and his 46.1 percent shooting from behind the arc is third best in the league. Only one other Tennessee player, JaJuan Smith, averages more than 9.5 points per game.

"It's real tough for us," Pearl said. "It's OK to be small, but it's difficult to be small and then not have a weapon like Chris. You have to find other ways to score than from the perimeter, and that's been a challenge for us."

Without Lofton in the lineup, Tennessee has lost to Ole Miss and Kentucky by an average of 16.5 points.

"He's the single biggest reason for the success they've had," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "Chris Lofton has won many games for Tennessee single-handedly. He's just made outrageous plays and shots to beat people. He's the best shooter in the country. He's by far the best pressured shooter in the country. He's been an almost indefensible player. He's very scary because you can do all the right things and he can pull a rabbit out of the hat."

The Bulldogs (13-6, 5-2 SEC) are in second place in the SEC East and have won five of their last six games. However, Georgia wasn't even close to ranked when the Associated Press poll was released Monday.

The Bulldogs, who have won three of last four games either in overtime or by fewer than four points, had 11 points in the "also receiving votes" category, meaning they're essentially ranked No. 41. Three teams that Georgia has beaten – No. 24 Vanderbilt, Kentucky and LSU – received more votes.

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