KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Move over, Allan Houston. Chris Lofton has left you in the dust.
Lofton became Tennessee’s all-time 3-point scorer in the first half of the 12th-ranked Volunteers’ 86-73 victory over UNC-Asheville on Wednesday night.
He passed Houston’s total of 346 and then made three more 3s and finished with 24 points.
“Chris Lofton is an accountable player and it was good to see him scoring well tonight,” third-year Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “We all know what a great player Allan Houston was and Lofton is the same kind of quality person as Houston.”
The odds favor Lofton becoming the Southeastern Conference’s career 3-point leader before the season is over. The preseason All-American is just 18 3s from passing Arkansas’s Pat Bradley’s SEC record of 366. Lofton should pass it in January at his current rate of more than three 3s per game.
While he’s also set to pass Houston’s mark of 817 attempts from 3-point range with two more, he said records were the last thing on his mind.
“I was not really paying attention to how close I was,” Lofton said. “It’s a great accomplishment but it’s a team thing. Someone has to throw me the ball in an open spot for me to score. I’m just looking forward to the Xavier game.”
The 3-pointer has become the Volunteers’ calling card under Pearl. Tennessee was averaging 28.4 attempts from beyond the arc this season, or nearly 44 percent of their shots from the field, entering Wednesday. They also led the SEC by making 10.2 3s per game.
Tennessee attempted a school-record 50 3-pointers in their Nov. 27 win over North Carolina A&T. Twelve Volunteers have made 3s this season after center Brian Williams broke into that column against the Bulldogs.
Still, not everyone in attendance was thrilled for Lofton. UNC-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach bemoaned his team’s slow start, which saw them take 5 minutes to make a shot from the field and 11 minutes to break into double digits in scoring.
“We did not respond at the beginning of the game like the team we are and that cost us at the end of the game,” Biedenbach said. “I am not happy with the outcome of this game, but I am happy we ground it out in the second half. We just need to execute better and hit some shots.”
Biedenbach may be accustomed to his team shooting the lights out the way their season has gone so far. UNC-Asheville (8-3), off to its best start in 23 years, came into the game leading the Big South by shooting 50.4 percent from the field. The Bulldogs shot 43.4 percent against Tennessee, which forced 16 turnovers.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Vols 35-34 with 7-foot-7 Kenny George, the tallest player in UNC-Asheville history, getting 13.
George’s presence was a factor in the Bulldogs cutting what was a 27-point deficit to nine with 3 minutes to play. Tennessee responded with baskets from Lofton and Williams and two free throws by Jordan Howell to help decide matters. Lofton’s 24 points allowed him to pass Vincent Yarbrough for eighth on Tennessee’s career list.