SEATTLE (AP) -- JaJuan Smith remembered what he learned at camp
Smith scored 18 points and played great defense on Gonzaga star
Jeremy Pargo, leading Tennessee (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) to an 82-72 victory over the
Tennessee's first trip to the state of Washington turned into
its best start in seven seasons. The Volunteers are 12-1 for the
first time since the 2000-01 team started 16-1.
"Our best defensive effort," Smith said proudly. "We were
told to press them really hard, to try to see if they could handle
Smith led the defensive effort with a solid job on Pargo, who
burned Oklahoma for a career-high 28 points in his previous game.
Pargo shot a season-worst 1-for-7 and finished with eight points,
six from the foul line. Hounded by Smith as far as 70 feet from the
basket, the Bulldogs' leading scorer missed two 3-pointers in the
first 14 minutes and then didn't shoot again until midway through
the second half -- when Tennessee led by 14.
Smith said his experience playing with Pargo at a basketball
"I had the advantage playing with him this summer, knowing his
moves," Smith said. "I knew if I could keep him frustrated, we
had a great chance of winning."
Pargo told a different story.
"I don't think it was so much him knowing what I was going to
do," he said. "Their entire team was waiting on me to make a
move, not just him."
Matt Bouldin scored 21 points for Gonzaga (9-4), which lost for
the third time in five games.
"Our athleticism was definitely on display. We were quick to
the ball," said Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team went 5-0
in December with four of the wins coming away from Knoxville.
Tennessee's relentless, trapping defense from three, ultra-quick
guards kept it in front for all but 30 seconds -- and Gonzaga from
getting into most of its halfcourt plays. Simply getting the ball
across halfcourt or on a pass out to the wing were adventures for
the Bulldogs, who fell behind by 18 before cutting it to five late.
At one point, Gonzaga coach Mark Few yelled to his team that
certain players would not be allowed to bring the ball upcourt
against the pressing Vols the rest of the game.
"They are an aggressive, athletic, opportunistic team," Few
said. "They take every opportunity you give them -- and they create
"High-octane. Every pass, every dribble challenged."
Bouldin's 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining cut Tennessee's lead to
76-71. That briefly had the "home" crowd roaring for one of the
few times in Gonzaga's annual game in Seattle.
But J.P. Prince, playing his fourth game since becoming eligible
following a transfer from Arizona, made a free throw and
Jordan Howell grabbed a deep tip out by Wayne Chism off a miss to set up
two more free throws from Prince. That put the Vols back up
"You can't give up an offensive rebound on a free throw. You
have to make those plays," Few said.
Chris Lofton, Tennessee's career leader in 3-point shooting,
missed seven of his first eight shots -- all from behind the arc and
some from behind the NBA line. He finished with 11 points on
4-for-13 shooting. After he missed his first three tries, Pearl
pulled him from the game.
But Lofton's drive and runner high off the glass, his first shot
attempted inside the 3-point arc, gave Tennessee an 11-point lead 3
minutes into the second half. And when he finally made consecutive
3-pointers with 9:52 left, on his eighth and ninth tries, the
Volunteers had their biggest lead at 64-46.
Lofton celebrated his breakout with a scream and leaping chest
bumps with giddy teammates as Gonzaga slumped off the court for its
"That may have been interpreted as, 'We have this game won.'
But that it was for Chris Lofton making a couple of shots," Pearl
said of the impromptu celebration.
Gonzaga's Josh Heytvelt scored 12 points in 24 minutes, his
second game of the season following surgery that inserted pins in
his ankle Nov. 12. Few said former leading scorer is "not even
close yet," to being at full condition.