Lofton Player of Year?

Should Tennessee's Chris Lofton win SEC Player of the Year recognition, he'll do so without the vote of his own coach.

Vol head man Bruce Pearl said this week he cast his vote for Glen "Baby" Davis, the 6-9, 310-pound LSU behemoth who ranked second among SEC players in scoring (18.3 points per game), first in rebounding (9.9 per game) and fourth in field-goal percentage (51.0).

Lofton, Tennessee's 6-2 sophomore guard, has some strong credentials, as well. He ranked No. 4 in SEC scoring (17.5 ppg), No. 5 in field-goal percentage (48.8), No. 2 in steals (2.07 per game), No. 2 in 3-point percentage (45.8) and No. 1 in 3-pointers made (3.81 per game). Lofton's 93.1 free-throw percentage would rank No. 1 except he hasn't attempted enough foul shots to qualify for the league rankings.

Still, Pearl voted for Davis, and he says there's a simple reason behind the decision.

"I've said from the beginning the best player from the best team should be Player of the Year," the Vol coach said. "LSU was the best team, and Glen Davis, in my opinion, was the best player. He's special. He's a terrific player."

LSU claimed the SEC regular-season title with a 14-2 record. Tennessee finished second at 12-4 and won the Eastern Division title. The Tigers beat the Vols head-to-head 88-74 Jan. 14 in Baton Rouge.

Had Tennessee won the SEC, Pearl figures one of his players should be Player of the Year.

"If we would've won the league," he said, "I would've hoped that either Chris or C.J. (Watson) would've gotten it."

Although he voted Davis the Player of the Year, Pearl said that doesn't necessarily mean the LSU standout is the league's best player.

"Chris Lofton may be the best player in the league," Pearl said. "Corey Brewer (Florida) may be the best player in the league. But their teams didn't win it. I've always believed it's the best player on the best team."

That raises an interesting question: If the SEC Player of the Year is the best player on the best team, should the Coach of the Year be the coach of the best team? If so, LSU's John Brady would be honored ahead of Pearl, who won a division title with a team pegged fifth in the six-team SEC East during preseason.

"If John Brady wins it, I could absolutely, positively understand that," Pearl said. "It would be consistent. I would have absolutely no problem if John Brady – having won our league – was voted Coach of the Year."

Maybe not, but a lot of Vol fans would.

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