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November 20, 2007KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- JaJuan Smith scored 26 of his career-high 32 points in the first half and Chris Lofton added 17 points to help No. 7 Tennessee beat Middle Tennessee 109-40 on Tuesday night.
Kevin Kanaskie had nine points and Nigel Johnson added seven for Middle Tennessee (1-3), which shot only 31 percent and lost to Tennessee for the sixth consecutive time.
The Vols had a stellar first half. They shot 62.5 percent from the floor, hit eight 3-pointers and forced 14 turnovers with their pressuring defense to take a 61-21 lead into the break.
Smith scored 20 of Tennessee's first 31 points, connecting on his first seven shots and his first five 3-point attempts as the Vols raced out to a 31-4 lead. He broke his previous career high of 25 by completing a three-point play with 40.5 seconds left in the first half.
Lofton, the reigning Southeastern Conference player of the year, emerged from an early-season shooting slump with his best game of the season. He finished 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point range after hitting only 6 of 28 shots in his first three games.
Tennessee senior Jordan Howell had nine points in his first start of the season at point guard in place of Smith, who went 0-for-12 from the free-throw line in an 89-75 win over Prairie View A&M on Friday.
Freshman center Brian Williams, who had averaged 13.7 minutes in Tennessee's first three games, did not play after suffering a knee injury on Friday.
The Vols, who previously had shot 57.6 percent from the free-throw line, were an improved 19-of-28. Smith was even 6-of-7, drawing a loud ovation from the home fans after completing a three-point play on his first foul shot.
The Blue Raiders, picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference East Division, committed 29 turnovers and trailed by as many as 71.