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Jan. 20, 2007

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -JaJuan Smith scored 21 points and Wayne Chism added 14 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 22 Tennessee end its three-game losing streak with a 64-61 win over South Carolina on Saturday.

The Volunteers (14-5, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) had lost by a total of six points during their skid and avoided a fourth straight defeat despite the loss of the league’s leading scorer Chris Lofton.

Lofton left the game early in the second half with a right ankle injury after scoring only four points.

Tennessee led most of the game, but the Gamecocks (10-7, 0-4) made several runs in hopes of ending their losing streak which they extended to five games. At least this one was closer.

South Carolina lost their last two games by 34 points to Florida and 38 to Kentucky. The Gamecocks rallied from being down 15 early in the second half to three with 2:50 left.

Tennessee scored twice to get it back up to seven with 53.8 seconds left, and South Carolina resorted to scoring quickly and fouling. Tennessee went 5-of-6 from the foul line the rest of the way to seal it.

Ramar Smith added 10 points for the Vols.

Tre Kelley led South Carolina with 18 points while Dominique Archie added 12 and Evaldas Baniulis had 10. Brandon Wallace had 15 rebounds.

The Vols’ losses were 82-81 at Vanderbilt, 68-66 at then-No. 5 Ohio State and 83-80 at Auburn.

Lofton, who was averaging 22.5 points, made two baskets in the second half before he fell to the floor in obvious pain after South Carolina scored with 18:11 remaining. He did not put weight on his right leg, and two teammates carried him off the court.

The Gamecocks had a three-point play by Wallace afterward to cut it to seven, but the Vols went on a 9-1 run. JaJuan Smith’s basket with 13:32 left made it 46-31, and South Carolina coach Dave Odom immediately called timeout.

South Carolina had a 9-0 run that cut it to 46-40 with 8:43 to go, and had a chance to get closer but Dwayne Day missed a pair of free throws.

The Gamecocks kept chipping away and got it down to three with 6:15 left on Kelley’s 3, but they could get no closer.

The Vols had trouble stopping Archie until he had to go to the bench with his fourth foul three minutes into the second half.

Tennessee went into halftime ahead 33-22 after leading most of the first half. The Gamecocks led in the opening minutes, but eight straight points by JaJuan Smith gave the Vols a 10-7 lead with 14:05 remaining.

Tennessee’s Jordan Howell, who started at point guard earlier in the season, played for the first time since Dec. 18 after breaking his right hand. He missed seven games. Freshman Ramar Smith remained the starter.