Disastrous debut

The premiere of "Life Without Lofton" was a critical and artistic failure but another episode is scheduled to air this Sunday on CBS. Tennessee fans are hoping the show's run will end shortly thereafter.

Minus All-America guard Chris Lofton, the Basketball Vols suffered an 83-69 loss Wednesday night at Ole Miss. Barring a miracle, Lofton's injured right ankle also will keep him from participating in Sunday's game at Kentucky. There are indications, however, that he might be back in time for Tennessee's Jan. 31 visit to Georgia.

Interviewed on the Vol Network's post-game show last night, Lofton conceded that the ankle is "still a little swollen" but that it "gets better every day."

The 6-foot-2 junior sharp-shooter said he is getting "eight to nine hours" of therapy and rehabilitation per day in an effort to speed up the healing process so he can "come back as soon as possible."

Regarded by many as the NCAA's finest 3-point shooter, Lofton was sorely missed in Wednesday's second half, when the Vols made just 3 of 13 from beyond the arc and were outscored 55-31. He leads the Southeastern Conference in 3s made and in scoring at 21.5 points per game. His 46.1 percentage from beyond the arc ranks third among SEC players.

A native of Maysville, Ky., Lofton obviously is disappointed about the likelihood of missing Sunday's nationally televised game in Lexington. Still, he knows he can't rush back into action before the ankle is stable – much as he'd love to play.

"If I can't, I can't," he said. "I'm trying to be in it for the long run. I can't just look at that game and say I have to be back."

On a positive note, he is encouraged that the ankle has responded well enough for him to begin walking again.

"I'm putting a lot of weight on it," he said, adding that he'll begin running as soon as the swelling and pain subsides.

That's great news for Tennessee. The Vols desperately need the points and poise he provides, as they proved conclusively in Episode 1 of "Life Without Lofton" Wednesday in Oxford.

Conceding that it was "really hard for me" to watch the Vols lose, Lofton said he's eager to rejoin them and "try to make plays, do stuff to try and help my team."

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