- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — No. 1 no more.

And the perfect season is gone, too.

Tyler Smith hit a turnaround jumper in the lane with 26.5 seconds left and No. 2 Tennessee knocked off the nation’s last unbeaten team, edging top-ranked Memphis 66-62 last night.

Tennessee (25-2) won on a night when star guard Chris Lofton scored only seven points, beating the Tigers with a dominating performance on the boards. Lofton did finish it off, though, hitting a couple of free throws with 4.5 seconds to go after Memphis intentionally missed at the line.

Memphis (26-1) lost at home for the first time since Jan. 2, 2006, ending the nation’s longest home winning streak at 47 games.

The Tigers had hoped to use this game to show their lofty record was proof they were the nation’s best team, not the beneficiaries of playing in an unheralded league, Conference USA.

And, of course, they wanted to stay on track to become the first team since Indiana in 1976 to make it all the way through the season with a perfect record.

But the Hoosiers can rest easy. At the end, Tennessee’s players walked off the court in triumph, holding up the name across the front of their orange jerseys to taunt the stunned crowd. The small group of Vols fans who actually got in the building hung around to chant “We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!”

Tennessee surely will be No. 1 when the next poll comes out — for the first time in school history.

“Rocky Top, you’ll always be, home sweet home to me,” they sang, having the arena to themselves after the Memphis faithful headed out onto Beale Street to drown their sorrows. “Good ol’ Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee.”

Smith scored 16 points to lead the Vols, while Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince added 13 apiece. But Tennessee did its best work on the boards, overpowering the Tigers with a season-high 50 rebounds. Memphis had 34.

The Tigers were up when Smith took a pass from Lofton, backed in and hit the jumper for a 62-61 lead. Antonio Anderson missed badly for Memphis at the other end, and the Tigers were forced to foul.

Prince hit a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game, and Tennessee wisely fouled before Memphis could go for a tying 3-pointer.

Instead, Derrick Rose made the first attempt in a 1-and-1, but had to miss the second intentionally, in hopes the Tigers could grab the rebound.

No way. Tennessee came down with it and Lofton was fouled. He only went 2-for-11 from the field, but calmly sank the two foul shots that finished off the Tigers’ perfect record.

While Rose was trying to miss, Memphis clanked plenty of foul shots it was trying to make. The Tigers, one of the nation’s worst free throw shooting teams, lived up to their ranking by making just 8-for-17 at the line.

Rose led Memphis with 23 points, but Chris Douglas-Roberts was the only other player in double figures with 14 points.


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