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December 29, 2007

Tennessee holds off Gonzaga, improves to 12-1

SEATTLE — JaJuan Smith scored 18 points and No. 11 Tennessee made up for star Chris Lofton's cold shooting with its usual, searing defense in an 82-72 win over Gonzaga on Saturday.

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.

Relentless, trapping defense from three, ultra-quick guards kept Tennessee 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.

Matt Bouldin scored 21 points to lead Gonzaga (9-4), which lost for the third time in five games.

Bouldin's 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining cut Tennessee's 18-point lead to 76-71 and briefly had the "home" crowd roaring for one of the few times in Gonzaga's annual game in Seattle.

But J.P. Prince 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 comfortably, 79-71.

For more coverage of Tennessee, visit VolQuest.com.

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