Dec. 28, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - JaJuan Smith knew he might have a chance to put up some big numbers Thursday night.
Smith scored a career-high 23 points to lead No. 21 Tennessee to a 101-77 victory over Tennessee Tech.
"I just knew Chris Lofton was coming off two big games and they would be keying on him," the junior guard said. "Me and Chris sat down and talked and said I'd have to step up."
The Vols (11-2), coming off a 111-105 overtime win against Texas on Dec. 23, have won seven straight.
Lofton, averaging 22.5 points, added 14 points for the Vols. Ryan Childress had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Duke Crews finished with 10 points and 10 boards. It was the first time in four years the Vols had two players with double-doubles in a game.
"Offensively we did a terrific job in compiling 25 assists and only eight turnovers," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.
Tennessee ran its series record to 20-1 against Tennessee Tech (5-7). Belton Rivers led the Golden Eagles with 20 points.
"One of the keys tonight is we did not execute very well offensively, and we took some bad shots," Tennessee Tech coach Mike Sutton said. "When you take a bad shot against these guys, it is basically like a turnover because it leads to a lot of easy baskets for them."
The Golden Eagles led 29-26 after Rivers' 3-ponter with 8:17 left in the first half. The Vols responded with a 19-0 run, taking a 45-29 lead on Lofton's layup with 4 minutes left in the half.
Tennessee led 56-38 at halftime and its lead grew to 70-44 on Crews' follow shot with 15:40 to play.
The Vols led by 21 or more the rest of the game, and Pearl took out his starters in the closing minutes.
Smith made five of 10 3-pointers and Ramar Smith had 13 points for Tennessee.
Anthony Fisher added 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting and Francis Kabore had 14 points for the Golden Eagles.
"We did not press much full court, none in the second half, because we wanted to test our half-court defense," Pearl said. "We finally got some good stops late in the game, but we are not where we want to be defensively."