|Chris Lofton scores 19 points and No. 7 Tennessee stays unbeaten with win over West Virginia|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 23 November 2007 19:20|
Wayne Chism added 17 points and Smith finished with 15 for the Volunteers (5-0), who kept letting the Mountaineers (2-1) back in the game after seeming to take control.
Tennessee will play Texas (4-0) on Saturday for the title. The Longhorns beat New Mexico State 102-87 in the other semifinal earlier at the new Prudential Center.
Newark native Da'Sean Butler had 16 points to lead West Virginia. Darris Nichols added 15 and Alex Ruoff had 14.
The Volunteers never trailed after Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers in a 9-2 spurt early in the second half for a 48-43 lead, but West Virginia kept coming back and had at least three chances to tie the game.
The last came with about 10 seconds to play when Ruoff was short with a 3-pointer with the Volunteers ahead 73-70.
Smith had hit two free throws with 36 seconds to play to give Tennessee a 71-67 lead and Mountaineers seemed out of it when Butler had a shot go in and out of the basket.
Lofton was fouled after the play and he then missed two free throws, giving West Virginia life. Ruoff followed with a 3-pointer with 14.2 seconds to play to cut the margin to 71-70.
Smith was quickly fouled again and he swished both free throws.
Without any time outs, West Virginia rushed the ball up the court and Ruoff failed to hit the rim.
Smith added a final free throw for a 74-70 lead. Josh Sowards backed in a shot at the buzzer for the final margin in the game that featured technical foul calls against Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl and West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.