COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Coach Bruce Pearl figured his Tennessee
Volunteers would have to score a lot of points to beat Long Beach
Boy, did they.
With Chris Lofton leading the way with 25 points, the Volunteers
set off some offensive fireworks to beat the 49ers 121-86 Friday in
an NCAA first-round shootout.
The point total matched the most in a first-round game, set by
UNLV in 1977 against San Francisco.
Both teams came in averaging 80 points - putting them among the
top 11 in the nation - so it wasn't a shocker that baskets came in
It was the most points ever scored in the tournament by
Tennessee and its most in 18 seasons in any game. The Volunteers
topped 100 on a dunk by Duke Crews with more than 6½ minutes left.
It was also the most lopsided NCAA win for the Volunteers
JaJuan Smith added 24 points, Ramar Smith 22, Crews 12 and Wayne Chism 10 points. Dane Bradshaw had 11 assists.
The Volunteers improved to 29-3 in Pearl's two years when
scoring 80 or more points - a threshold they reached with 13
minutes remaining. They'll face Virginia in the second round of the
South Regional on Sunday.
Kejuan Johnson scored 24 points, Aaron Nixon 23 and Kevin
Houston 17 for the 12th-seeded 49ers (24-8), regular-season and
tournament champs of the Big West who were making their first NCAA
appearance in a dozen years.
Tennessee's ever-present fight song, "Rocky Top" provided the
background music for the show.
Lofton, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, led the
way as the Volunteers shot 59 percent from the field and made 14 of
27 3-pointers. He hit half of his eight shots behind the arc and
JaJuan Smith hit 4-of-6.
Each team hit seven 3-pointers in a wild opening half that
featured the Volunteers racing to a 29-12 lead in the opening 7½
minutes. They did it with precision shooting, their full-court
press and trapping pressure.
Lofton keyed the defense, with two steals leading to a pair of
layups in a 5-second span.
The 49ers got as close as 41-35 thanks to their own long-range
marksmanship, with Nixon hitting four shots behind the arc and
Johnson three - each of which were arching rainbows that barely
rustled the net.
The 3-point shooting contest also was hardly a surprise. Both
teams set school records this year, with Tennessee hitting 286
3-pointers and the 49ers making 261.
Ahead 57-45 at the break, the Volunteers ran off 12 of the first
14 points in the second half - seven by Lofton - to build the lead
From then on, when they weren't flexing their muscles inside,
they were hitting wide-open 3s off kickout passes from their big
The Volunteers had 90 points with 10 minutes left.
It wasn't as if the 49ers didn't have a big offensive game. They
hit 49 percent from the field and made 12 of 21 3-pointers. But
Tennessee had only six turnovers and picked up 22 points off
The game might have been the swan song for coach Larry Reynolds, 63-83 in five years at Long Beach State. School administrators allowed him to finish out his contract, saying they would discuss the future of the program after the season ended.
The 49ers had won 11 of their last 12 coming into the game.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)