Florida Basketball: Three pathways for Gators to beat Tennessee

The Gators are in Knoxville in need of a signature win to help their NCAA resume
Florida guard Riley Kugel (2) dunks during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Gainesville,
Florida guard Riley Kugel (2) dunks during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Gainesville, / Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun / USA

After starting SEC play 0-2, Florida basketball had a much needed blowout win over Arkansas on Saturday.

But now the Gators are on the road in snowy Knoxville, TN to take on the sixth ranked Tennessee Volunteers with another opportunity to pick up a showcase win for their NCAA Tournament resume.

Florida Basketball Pathways To Victory

Free Throws

It feels like low-hanging fruit to say that free throws will decide the outcome of the game, but they have been such an Achilles' heel for the Gators that it has to be mentioned.

The Gators are getting to the free throw line with frequency. They are 53rd in the country at free throws attempted per field goals attempted, shooting two free throws on roughly one out of every five shots they take.

Tennessee is 181st in this same category, taking two free throws on roughly every six shots they take.

Over the course of taking 60+ shots in a game, those extra trips to the line can add up.

So, while Florida is ninth in the country in total free throws attempted, they are only 30th in free throws made. Likewise, Tennessee is 139 in free throws attempted but 84th in free throws made.

Translation, if Florida can maintain the 75% clip they had against Arkansas, they will have a real chance in this game.

Don't Fade In The Second Half

We highlighted this last week, but the Gators are 111th in second half scoring margins. This sounds not terrible, but for a team that is 11-5, this margin should be much higher. Tennessee is 24th in the country in second half scoring margin.

And, since entering SEC play, the Gators are -5 per game on second half scoring margin, and that's with the strong second half they had against Arkansas.

Tennessee is plus 8.7 points in the second half in their last three games, a clip higher than their season average of 5.9 points.

Offensive Rebounding

Pounding the offensive glass has been a strength for the Gators all season and Florida is still fourth in the category, grabbing 40.4% of their own missed shots.

This is an area Tennessee is decent at as well, ranked 44th in the country.

And with both teams pretty even in their defensive rebounding percentage, Florida will have to continue to find a way to exploit the offensive glass to hang around in Knoxville.