The star didn't shine

There were two unexpected developments in Tennessee's 89-81 defeat of Appalachian State Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

1. Chris Lofton was unable to hit the clutch shots at the finish.

2. Tennessee was able to win anyway.

Lofton rescued the Vols last week against Murray State, single-handedly outscoring the Racers 12-1 during the game-winning rally in the closing minutes. Against Appy State, however, he scored his final bucket with 8:37 to go and the Vols clinging to a scant 72-69 lead. Fortunately for Tennessee, Lofton's teammates picked up the slack.

JaJuan Smith hit a 3-pointer from the corner. C.J. Watson sandwiched a pair of treys around a hanging 6-footer by Stanley Asumnu. Watson then hit four consecutive free throws and Andre Patterson one to seal the outcome. All Tennessee got from Lofton during the final 8:37 was one free throw and some errant 3-point tries. The fact the Vols won anyway is very encouraging.

"That's huge," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "You hate to put so much pressure on your offense – we shot 50 percent in the second half, 45 percent from 3 – but how many shots we missed were shots we (normally) make?"

The answer: Three. Lofton got four good looks from 3-point range in the second half, yet made only one of them. He was two of seven from beyond the arc for the night. The fact Tennessee won with its star player having an "off" night suggests the Vols may be less of a one-man team than many fans suspected.

"Chris Lofton being off is probably a good night for somebody else," teammate Dane Bradshaw noted with a grin. "Fortunately, we're not too reliant on him. C.J. Watson did well and everybody made plays.

"If everybody can do what they do best, together we can win a lot of games."


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