Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin had never lost to Florida in his coaching career, going 3-0 against the Gators. That all changed Saturday afternoon. The sixth-ranked Gators (17-2, 6-0) used stifling defense and a 41 point second half effort that matched the Vols (12-7, 3-3) entire offensive output to top Tennessee 67-41. The Gators defense held the Volunteers guard Jordan McRae, who had been on a scoring tear, to five points on 1-15 shooting. Florida extended its school-record home winning streak to 26 games, good for third best in the nation, and won their 11th straight game. The Gators remain the only unbeaten team in the SEC during league play.
The game remained close in the first half with the score being 26-19 in Florida’s favor at the end of the half. But they ran away from Tennessee in the second half after Dorian Finney-Smith dove into the crowd to save an offensive rebound that ended up with a Michael Frazier II three-pointer. The Gators outscored the Volunteers 41-22 to gain the 26-point win. Finney-Smith brought energy to the game off the bench, scoring 9 points with 8 rebounds, 3 of them offensive rebounds. Florida used four double-digit scorers to outscore the entire Tennessee team. Frazier led all scorers with 17 points, hitting 3-6 from long-range. Scottie Wilbekin tallied 13 points, Casey Prather scored 12, and Patric Young added 10 points. Tennessee’s leading scorer was Jarnell Stokes with 16 points. No other Vol scored double-digits.
Florida held Tennessee to 26.8% (15-56) shooting, including just 5.3% (1-19), while shooting at a 48.1% (26-54) clip. The Volunteers did hold an advantage on the glass, out-rebounding the Gators 40-35, and dominated the offensive boards 16-7. Those second-chance didn’t end up being fruitful, however. Florida turned Tennessee over 13 times, while only giving the ball up 6. One area Billy Donovan might be concerned about, besides on the offensive glass, is the assist total. The Gators only had 8 assists on 25 made shots, something not typical of this years team. In the end, Donovan will take a 26-point win against a rival like the Volunteers, but he still has plenty he can coach them on before their next game.
If there’s one thing Tennessee can take solace in, it’s that they will have a chance to knock off the Gators February 11 when they host Florida. With the win and the polls coming out on Monday, the Gators should move into the top-5 for the first time this season since number four Villanova got blown out by Creighton earlier this week. Florida next travels to Starkville, where the Gators have had some trouble in the past, to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs (13-6, 3-3) Thursday. The game starts at 7 pm and can be seen on ESPN2 or streaming on WatchESPN or heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.