The Tennessee Vols men's basketball team faces a big challenge Saturday.
They will take on No. 8 Florida in a rematch of each team's SEC opener, a game UT won 67-56 on Jan. 7.
The Gators will be looking for revenge at 4 p.m. inside the O'Connell Center, as the Vols victory earlier in the season came as a surprise to Florida which was ranked No. 14 at the time. The 56-point output was the lowest point total Florida has scored all season.
Saturday's matchup is intriguing, not only from a rematch standpoint, but also from a psychological standpoint.
Tennessee is coming off consecutive conference victories for the first time all season after defeating South Carolina 69-57 on Wednesday night. The win came on the heels of the Vols' 73-62 victory over Georgia on Saturday.
The Vols got a big time performance out of junior guard Skylar McBee versus the Gamecocks. McBee posted career-highs with 18 points and 31 minutes. It was just his second career start, the first taking place against the Bulldogs a few days earlier.
Florida, meanwhile, is coming off a blowout loss to Kentucky in which Gators' senior guard Erving Walker was held scoreless by a potent Wildcat defense.
The matchup holds postseason ramifications as both teams are jockeying for better position in the SEC tournament scheduled to begin March 8. The current standings have Florida (19-5, 7-2) in second and Tennessee (12-12, 4-5) eighth.
A very physical game between the SEC rivals should be expected, especially in the paint although Vols freshman phenom forward Jarnell Stokes' status has not yet been confirmed after he sprained his right hand in practice earlier in the week. Stokes did not play in the South Carolina game and head coach Cuonzo Martin has decided to make the decision on Stokes on Saturday before the game.
Even without Stokes, Florida's Patric Young and Erik Murphy will have to deal with Jeronne Maymon and Kenny Hall. Hall, who has started 15 games this season, played for Stokes versus South Carolina. Hall was able to record 10 rebounds and 3 blocks while scoring 4 points in 32 minutes of play.
Saturday will mark the 123rd meeting between the Vols and Gators. Tennessee leads the all-time series 70-52. Under head coach Billy Donovan, the Gators are 10-5 against the Vols at home.