Buzz has some bombers

Based on the two preseason exhibitions, Tennessee's Basketball Vols may be getting a lot of points from the perimeter this year. And that could get the Big Orange back in the NCAA Tournament after a three-year absence.

Scooter McFadgon scored 21 points and fellow guard Chris Lofton 18 as the Vols hammered Carson-Newman 95-59 in Saturday night's exhibition game at Thompson-Boling Arena. McFadgon hit 6 of 11 floor shots, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Lofton, a freshman, hit 7 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.

Counting an earlier 117-89 exhibition defeat of Tusculum, McFadgon's two-game stats show 41 points, 13 of 22 shooting from the field and 8 of 15 from 3-point range. Lofton has been just as effective. He has scored 34 points, while hitting 13 of 18 floor shots and 7 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Another freshman guard, walk-on JuJuan Smith of McMinn County, also had a hot night vs. Carson-Newman. He nailed 4 of 4 from the floor, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range, en route to 11 points.

When the outside shooters are hitting that opens things up for the inside game. This was the case in the two exhibitions. Tennessee hit a sizzling 61.3 percent from the floor in its opener versus Tusculum and nailed 59.6 percent against Carson-Newman.

Granted, the Vols accomplished these feats of marksmanship against NCAA Div. II teams. Still, the fact the Big Orange is hitting from outside against ANYBODY bodes well for the 2004-05 season.

Tennessee basically had one perimeter scorer last season -- McFadgon. When opponents began using a box-and-one to stop him, the Vols had no one capable of picking up the slack. C.J. Watson was an effective but reluctant shooter. The other guards -- John Winchester, Stanley Asumnu and Dane Bradshow -- simply couldn't sink enough outside shots to take any heat off McFadgon.

The addition of the hot-shooting Lofton could make a huge difference this season. So could the availability of redshirt freshman Jordan Howell, who missed the Carson-Newman outing with a sprained ankle. JuJuan Smith could add even more outside punch.

Was the Vols' hot shooting in preseason an omen or a mirage? We'll know soon. Tennessee opens for real Nov. 22 against powerful Stanford in the Maui Invitational.


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