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December 13, 2006

Lofton emerges as the top shooting guard

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Put Chris Lofton down for one of the best single-game performances of the season.

Lofton took over Tennessee's matchup with in-state rival Memphis last Wednesday, scoring a career-high 34 points to carry the Vols to a 76-58 rout over the No. 19 Tigers in Knoxville.

Lofton was dominant from the start. In the final minute of the first half, the smooth shooting junior was outscoring the entire Memphis team, having already racked up 21 points to the Tigers' 20.

The Tigers used a variety of defenders on Lofton, but none had much success. The junior kept finding ways to get his shot off and teammates fed him the ball all night. Lofton finished 12-of-18 from the field and 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

The performance was enough to catapult Lofton into the top spot of the shooting guard rankings in the College Basketball Power Rankings.

"Chris Lofton is amazing," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "We talk about getting better, because our team is so young, but tonight does not happen without the whole group working to allow Lofton to win the game."

Of course, other big games put Lofton in position to get to the top. He scored 30 or more points in two other games this season and is averaging 20.3 points a game while shooting 49 percent from 3-point range.

Arizona's Marcus Williams made the biggest jump of any shooting guard, going from No. 6 to No. 3. The sophomore put together the best game of his young career on Saturday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the Wildcats' 69-48 win at San Diego State.

None of the other top-ranked players at their respective positions fell, but there are a couple of new No. 2's.

LSU's Glen Davis moved up behind Tyler Hansbrough in the center rankings thanks to back-to-back double-doubles. Davis scored 24 points and ripped down 10 rebounds to power the No. 12 Tigers past then-No. 6 Texas A&M at home. Davis then scored 21 and added 10 more boards in a dramatic 75-74 loss to Texas in overtime in Houston.

Florida's Al Horford jumped two spots to sit behind only Nick Fazekas in the power forward rankings. Horford put together his fourth double-double of the season in the Gators' 85-67 win over visiting Providence, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 boards.

Some of the other significant moves included Gonzaga's Derek Raivio moving up three spots to No. 6 in the point guard rankings, Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan going from No. 12 to No. 8 in the power forward rankings and UCLA's Josh Shipp climbing from No. 10 to No. 8 in the small forward rankings.

We will continue to update the power rankings weekly throughout the season. For our purposes, the power rankings will reflect those games played Tuesday through Monday.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week, but the power rankings measure their overall careers as well as their most recent performances.

By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players were the best at their respective positions.

Click here to check out the complete College Basketball Power Rankings.



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