Lofton is out 'indefinitely'

Tennessee's three-game losing streak wasn't all that snapped Saturday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. All-America guard Chris Lofton's right ankle snapped, forcing him to sit out the final 18:11 of the Vols' 64-61 defeat of South Carolina.

Because of significant swelling in the ankle, no x-rays will be taken until Monday morning. The 6-2 junior guard from Maysville, Ky., is listed as "out indefinitely." He appears likely to miss Wednesday night's game at Ole Miss. Whether he can be back in time to face the home-state Kentucky Wildcats Sunday, Jan. 28 in Lexington remains to be seen.

Head coach Bruce Pearl said he will prepare a game plan for Ole Miss that can function "with or without Chris Lofton," adding: "I've got a lot to think about, as far as our rotations are concerned."

Even without the injury, Saturday was Lofton's worst outing of the season. He picked up two quick fouls and was held scoreless in the first half.

"They played a switching defense on Chris – jumped out on him, switched off and built a wall," Pearl noted. "As a result, he didn't get many open shots."

Tennessee made some adjustments at halftime, and Lofton scored the Vols' first two baskets of the second half before turning his ankle.

"Coming out for the second half, right away we get him involved and right away he takes it to the basket," Pearl noted. "He scored twice to start the second half, so obviously we made the adjustment at halftime."

Lofton, who leads all SEC scorers at 21.5 points per game, finished with a season-low 4 points. He failed to hit a 3-point basket for the first time all season and saw a streak of 13 consecutive double-figure scoring performances end.

Josh Tabb, who hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes vs. Carolina, has been Lofton's chief backup this season and would be a logical choice to assume his first-team berth. Another option is junior Jordan Howell, who can play point guard or off guard.

If Tabb gets the call, Tennessee could be starting three freshmen at Ole Miss. Duke Crews and Ramar Smith already are Vol starters.

"Josh is a candidate to be able to step up and help," Pearl said.


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