Rocky Top reunion

Tennessee basketball fans who miss the days when ex-Vols Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith were bombing home 3-pointers would've loved Monday night's action in the Pilot Rocky Top League.

Lofton, playing his first game for Choice Spine, wowed the capacity crowd by scoring 49 points in a 121-120 loss to HT Group. Smith, playing his first game for The News-Sentinel, fired in 28 points in a 120-108 defeat of Richardson Construction.

The competition isn't always top-drawer in summer league basketball but there were some intriguing matchups in Monday's session at Knoxville's Bearden High Gym.

The most intriguing projected to be the matchup between Vol point guard Bobby Maze and former Vol point guard C.J. Watson, who just completed his first season with the NBA's Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, Maze and Watson rarely went one-on-one. Usually, a pick or a screen got the one playing offense free from the one playing defense.

Although Maze outscored Watson 40 points to 14, that's terribly deceiving. Watson led Ray's ESG to a 21-2 lead, then took a breather a few minutes later with his team still comfortably in front. While he was out Maze went off, scoring on three drives and two 3s before the Ray's coach called timeout and re-inserted Watson. Maze drained one more 3 just before intermission and finished the first half with 23 points.

Maze hit three more 3s early in the second half, then seemed to wilt in the 100-degree heat – missing regularly over the game's final 12 minutes. Although Watson did little scoring, he ran the offense beautifully and piled up a bunch of assists as Ray's ESG pulled away and beat Maze's First Tennessee Bank team 123-99.

Former Vols Ron Slay (23 points) and Jon Higgins (21) had big games for Ray's. Current Vols Steven Pearl (13) and Kenny Hall (12) contributed, as well.

Supporting Maze's 40-point effort for First Tennessee were current Vol Emmanuel Negedu (13) and former Vol Rashard Lee (11).

Another interesting matchup occurred in Game 1 between 6-10, 270-pound Vol junior Brian Williams and 6-10, 250-pound Jon Mueller, formerly of Marquette. Mueller, 30, was the second pick in the Rocky Top League draft and is a very polished big man.

Williams' heft vs. Mueller's savvy proved to be a standoff, as Williams scored 13 points for The Knoxville News-Sentinel and Mueller scored 10 for Richardson Construction.

Vol sophomore Scotty Hopson scored 43 points to pace the News-Sentinel, while the afore-mentioned JaJuan Smith added 28. Incoming UT freshman Skylar McBee chipped in 11.

Tops for Richardson were current Vol Tyler Smith (35), former Vol Damon Johnson (21) and current Vol Josh Tabb (14).

Although Lofton stole the show in Game 2, it featured an intriguing matchup, as well – 6-9, 240-pound current Vol Wayne Chism vs. 6-8, 250-pound former Vol C.J. Black.

Black is a very physical defender but Chism showed why he has NBA potential by scoring on an assortment of inside moves and 3-point bombs. Chism finished with 36 points, including the game-winning tip-in with 3.1 seconds left in HT Group's 121-120 defeat of Choice Spine. Black scored just 3 points.

Vol sophomore Renaldo Woolridge scored 7 points in support of Chism. Another Vol sophomore, Cameron Tatum, scored 27 points in support of Lofton's 49 for Choice Spine.

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