The shooter in question was Jordan Howell, a reserve point guard who is more inclined to set up shots than take them. Tuesday night he made an exception, however, and it may have been the biggest basket of the game.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to Jordan Howell tonight," Smith said. "He made a big shot, and I think that sealed the win."
Head coach Bruce Pearl agreed, noting that Howell "hit a great shot on a short-clock situation."
There were just eight seconds on the shot clock when Tennessee inbounded the ball at side court, so the Vols knew someone was going to have to unload in a hurry. Howell wasn't supposed to be that someone, however.
"The play was actually going to be an inside play," he recalled. "I was the second option. With eight seconds left, all I could do was try to make a play. Thankfully, it went in."
It did, padding a shaky 63-57 lead to 66-57. Asked what kind of look he got on the clutch shot, Howell shrugged and smiled.
"I really don't know," he said. "When I caught it, I just knew I had to make a play, and I got into a rhythm off the dribble. Even in high school I thought of myself as a better shooter off the dribble. Both of my 3's tonight were off the dribble.
"I kinda knew when I went up it was going in."
LSU drained a pair of 3-pointers in the last 13 seconds but got no closer than the final margin.
Howell wasn't Tennessee's only unsung hero. Freshman Wayne Chism did a magnificent job defending LSU's 6-9, 290-pound Glen Davis, the 2005-06 SEC Player of the Year. Davis made just 2 of 10 shots and finished with 5 points, 13½ below his average.
Yet another unsung hero for the Vols was Ryan Childress. With 6-4 senior forward Dane Bradshaw struggling offensively (1 of 9 from the floor) and defensively (Tasmin Mitchell burned him for 23 points), the 6-9 Childress gave UT more size on the inside against the towering Tigers.
Childress finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in 12 outstanding minutes off the bench. Pearl praised the sophomore's "energy and intensity," noting that he was "very, very productive."
So were the Smiths. JaJuan had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Ramar chipped in 14 points and 3 assists. He hit 8 of 10 foul shots, including two that clinched the win with 11.6 seconds remaining.
Lofton, clearly rusty after missing four games with an injured ankle, made just 1 of 5 shots – 1 of 3 from beyond the arc – and finished with 8 points. A defensive liability because of his tender ankle, he played just 21 minutes.
The loss, LSU's sixth in a row, drops the Tigers to 13-10 overall and 2-7 in SEC play. LSU outshot Tennessee 44.9 to 38.6 percent from the field and 50.0 to 23.8 percent from 3-point range. The Tigers also outrebounded the Vols 39-30 but were done in by 20 turnovers.
The win improves Tennessee's overall record to 16-8 and its SEC mark to 4-5. The Vols host Vanderbilt Saturday at 1 in hopes of avenging an earlier loss at Nashville.