Undermanned Florida stuns No. 6 Tennessee
Missing three of their top players, the Florida Gators shocked the sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers 75-49 at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday evening.
The win elevated the Gators’ (7-4) SEC record to 4-3.
The loss put an end to the Vols’ (10-2, 4-2) three-game winning streak, its four-game success streak against Florida and, perhaps, cost them their spot in the top 10 in the rankings.
The problem for UT was poor shooting — 29.3 percent from the floor and 3 of 18 from 3-point land — and poor play around the basket as it was beat on the boards 44-36 and outscored in the paint 42-22. The Volunteers also had 18 turnovers and a suddenly shoddy defense allowed Florida to shoot 49.2 percent as a hustling Gator team dominated in getting a feel-great win against a ranked team.
Florida was led by Noah Locke and Tyree Appleby, who had 14 and 13 points, respectively. Appleby also had a team-high seven assists.
Also in double figures for the Gators were Tre Mann (12) and Ques Glover (10).
The Vols were led by John Fulkerson’s 15 points, while. Keon Johnson added eight.
The Gators held Victor Bailey Jr., who has been scoring 12.3 points per game, to four points on 1 of 12 shooting from the floor. Also stymied for UT was Josiah-Jordan Games, who was held to five points.
The Gators have been playing without SEC preseason player of the year Keyontae Johnson since he collapsed on the floor during a game against Florida State on Dec. 12.
Against the Volunteers, the Gators were playing their third straight game without Scottie Lewis and his 11.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game because of what school officials called health and safety protocols.
Also a pregame scratch was Colin Castleton (ankle injury), who is averaging 12.6 points and a team-leading 5.7 rebounds.
But balanced scoring turned the trick.
The Vols defense has been a strength this season as it was giving up a league-best 62.6 points per game in SEC play. Tennessee ranked third in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 57.2 points per game. The 75 points they gave up were the most on the season.
But starting early, it was the Gators who looked to be the defensive specialists as they held UT to just 13 points in the first 11 minutes of the game. They held UT to just 28.1 percent from the floor in the first half.
Florida is next scheduled to take on Georgia on the road on Saturday afternoon.
The Vols, meanwhile, are set to host No. 19 Missouri in Knoxville.
–Field Level Media
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