Man bites Dawgs

Because Chris Lofton grew up in Kentucky and has played some of his best games against the Big Blue, a lot of Tennessee fans consider him to be a Cat fancier.

In fact, he's a Dawg lover.

Although he is averaging 19.6 points per game for seven career outings against his home-state Wildcats, Chris Lofton's career numbers are even better against Georgia, today's foe in Athens.

In six career games against the Bulldogs the 6-2 Vol senior is averaging 20.7 points per game. He is shooting a sizzling 55.4 percent (41 of 74) from the field, an eye-popping 51.9 percent (27 of 52) from 3-point range and an excellent 83.3 percent (15 of 18) from the foul line.

Lofton gets his last regular-season shot at the Dawgs today at 3 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum, a venue that holds fond memories for him. He turned in the greatest road performance of his career there in 2006 – nailing 10 of 14 shots, including 9 of 12 from 3, en route to 33 points in 33 minutes. The nine 3s is a school record.

Given his history, it should come as no surprise that Lofton had his best game of 2007-08 against Georgia back on Jan. 26, draining 9 of 17 shots (7 of 13 from 3) en route to a season-high 27 points. Clearly, he is a major reason Tennessee is 7-0 vs. Georgia over the past 3? seasons.

Lofton won't be the only hot-shooting guard in today's game, however. Vol teammate JaJuan Smith is coming off a 32-point outing vs. Arkansas in which he sank 9 of 13 shots, including 6 of 6 from beyond the arc. Then there's Georgia's Sundiata Gaines, who scored 32 points against Florida last Saturday and 27 in the Dawgs' 82-64 blowout of South Carolina Wednesday night.

Gaines is averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. His supporting cast consists of 6-8, 270-pound freshman Jeremy Price (9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds), 6-10, 255-pound senior Dave Bliss (7.7 points, 5.2 rebounds), 6-7, 220-pound junior Terrance Woodbury (9.5 points, 3.6 rebounds) and 6-1, 175-pound sophomore Zac Swansey (4.3 points).

Fourth-ranked Tennessee brings a 22-2 overall record, a 9-1 SEC record and a six-game winning streak into the game. Georgia is 12-10 overall and 3-6 in SEC play.

As usual, the Vols will try to establish a fast tempo and wear down their opponent. That strategy is especially appealing against Georgia, which is down to seven scholarship players since the suspension of Billy Humphrey.

The game also features an interesting coaching match-up. Bruce Pearl, 68-21 in his third season at Tennessee, is a hot property. Dennis Felton, 70-73 in his fifth season at Georgia, is on the hot seat.

LOFTON VS. GEORGIA

2005 on road: 5 of 10 FG, 3 of 6 from 3 ... 14 points

2005 at home: 7 of 12 FG, 3 of 8 from 3 ... 20 points

2006 at home: 6 of 11 FG, 2 of 6 from 3 ... 16 points

2006 on road: 10 of 14 FG, 9 of 12 from 3 ... 33 points

2007 at home: DID NOT PLAY (ankle injury)

2007 on road: 4 of 10 FG, 3 of 7 from 3 ... 14 points

2008 at home: 9 of 17 FG, 7 of 13 from 3, 27 points


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