Lofton vs. Carney

Tennessee guard Chris Lofton scored a career-low 2 points in Saturday night's loss at LSU, and the odds of a big bounce-back game Wednesday night at Memphis appear less than promising.

The reason: Rodney Carney.

Carney is a 6-7, 205-pounder who likely will be guarding the 6-2 Lofton much of the evening. Certainly, Carney has credentials which suggest he's capable of handling the assignment. Earlier this season he blanketed Duke's J.J. Redick, considered by many to be the NCAA's premier outside shooter.

"Carney shut down Redick in the second half," UT coach Bruce Pearl noted. "Redick didn't score against Carney, or Memphis, in the second half of that game. That certainly doesn't bode well for the kind of defense Memphis can put on Chris and WILL put on Chris."

Chris Lofton has been guarded by taller foes before. Oklahoma State's 6-7 Marcus Dove limited him to 2 first-half points. LSU's 6-5 Garrett Temple limited him to 2 first-half points and zero second-half points.

"Shooters are going to have a little bit of up-and-down to them," Pearl conceded. "There's only been two games where Chris would say he struggled: One was against Oklahoma State and the other was LSU … both losses. Both teams were terrific defensively and had really big, long guys on him. He's going to see the same thing against Memphis."

Lofton went 1 for 5 in the first half at LSU, then seemed to get frustrated. He attempted just two second-half shot, missing both to finish 1 for 7. Tennessee probably needs for him to shoot at least 10 to 15 times per game.

"We are trying to do things to get Chris open," Pearl said. "Chris has got to do a better job of doing things to get himself open. I think once Chris is open he'll shoot more and make more. He had a couple of decent looks in the first half against LSU that didn't go down. Good shooters can't let that bother them."

Pearl emphasized that he isn't being critical, noting that Lofton is his own worst critic. Determination is not the problem.

"He's trying to get open, trying to score," the coach said. "I just don't want him to let it affect him either on the defensive end, rebounding or for the next game."

The Vol coach can accept that Lofton occasionally has nights when the shots aren't falling. What he can't accept is when Lofton – or any other player – allows his struggles on the offensive end of the floor to affect the other aspects of his game.

As Pearl put it: "The thing I've asked Chris to do is, ‘Even when you're not scoring, you've got to play defense and you've got to rebound.' He didn't have a rebound in the game against LSU. From my standpoint, that's something he can look at."

When he's hot, Lofton routinely creates and makes shots that appear forced. Still, Pearl would like to see Lofton taking more open shots and fewer forced shots.

"I think you need to let guys that can make tough shots create and make shots for themselves, and Chris is one of those guys that can," Pearl said. "But he has to do a better job of getting open to get open shots.

"I like open shots better than created shots, and we're trying to get him open."

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