"He's a great contested shooter, and he'd definitely be contested if he can't move," Vol teammate Dane Bradshaw quipped. "But I'd still bet on him."
Still, the odds are against Chris Lofton playing in Sunday's game, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. tip-off on CBS. The injured ankle is progressing but Vol coaches want to make sure it's 100 percent before letting Lofton test it. Lofton, of course, is eager to get back on the floor as soon as possible.
"I'd say when he gets to 60 or 70 percent – when he feels he can be effective for our team – he's going to play," Bradshaw said. "He's not going to sit around and wait for it to be 100 percent. That's the great competitor that he is.
"Even when he does come back, we're all going to have to step it up a little bit because we can't just look to hand it off to him all the time."
Lofton averages an SEC-best 21.5 points per game. Tennessee has not played well since he suffered the injury two minutes into the second half of last Saturday's game with South Carolina. Leading by 10 points at the time of Lofton's injury, the Vols had to hang on for dear life to win by three. Then they went to Oxford Wednesday night and suffered an 83-69 loss to Ole Miss.
Lofton's remarkable shooting range forces opponents to extend their defense, creating driving lanes for his teammates. With him missing the last three halves of action, however, opponents are defending the Vols differently.
"They usually deny the wing a little tougher (when Chris is on floor)," Bradshaw noted. "Chris usually takes one defender out of the way. That gives you a four-on-four opportunity, opens up some driving lanes that weren't there Wednesday night.
"Chris is very effective even when he's not touching the ball."