Lofton could crack NCAA top 10

Milestones are nice, but they mean a whole lot more when you win.

Just ask Tennessee's Chris Lofton. The 6-2 senior became the most prolific 3-point shooter in SEC history Tuesday night but had the accomplishment forever marred by the fact it occurred in a 72-66 loss at Kentucky.

With 367 treys to his credit, Lofton has a great chance to reach another milestone when the Vols host Georgia tonight at 7. He needs just four 3s to crack the all-time NCAA top 10.

Lofton showed signs of snapping out of a season-long slump by draining 5 of 10 shots from 3-point range and scoring a team-high 22 points against the Wildcats. It was only his third 20-point outing of the season and his first since Dec. 19.

Tennessee (16-2 overall, 3-1 SEC) has won 26 consecutive home games but may be suffering a bit of a hangover following the loss to Kentucky. The Vols matched the best start in program history at 16-1 and achieved a program-best No. 3 national ranking prior to wilting at Rupp Arena. Leading 48-39 with 13:37 remaining, they were outscored 29-12 over the next 13 minutes, seeing a nine-point lead turn into an eight-point deficit.

Neutralizing the post-Big Blue hangover could be the return of Duke Crews. The 6-7 sophomore, sidelined by a heart condition since Dec. 4, is scheduled to play 10 minutes or so off the bench tonight. Crews' availability is expected to cost 6-10, 270-pound freshman Brian Williams his spot in the Vols' nine-man rotation.

Big Orange fans will get their final look at one of the SEC's most versatile guards ever tonight. Georgia's Sundiata Gaines is the only player in program history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. The gifted 6-1 senior is averaging 12.9 points, a team-high 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.19 steals per game this year.

The rest of the Dawgs' starting five consists of 6-10, 255-pound senior Dave Bliss (6.6 points, 4.6 rebounds), 6-8, 270-pound freshman Jeremy Price (9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds), 6-7 junior Terrance Woodbury (8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds) and 6-2 junior Billy Humphrey (14.1, 3.9).

Georgia is 11-5 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. The Bulldogs are riding a two-game winning streak, having beaten Alabama 61-54 Jan. 16 and Arkansas 82-69 Jan. 19. Georgia has not played in six days.

As always, rebounding will be a key for Tennessee. The Vols have a minus-1.7 rebound margin, meaning they lose the backboard battle by an average of 1.7 rebounds per game. Conversely, Georgia has a plus-4.6 rebound margin.

Tennessee has won the last six meetings in the series, including an 82-71 triumph last season in Knoxville while Lofton was sidelined by a sprained ankle.

Tonight's game will be televised by FSN South.


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