The duo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, who has taken the nickname “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” propelled No. 19 Tennessee to a 62-57 win over Florida in Knoxville Wednesday night.
Tennessee held the Gators to just 35 percent shooting from the field and forced 11 turnovers. With the win, the Vols sit in second place with a two-game lead over third place in the SEC.
“I appreciate the work ethic of our guys,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We’re here because we have a group of guys that like each other.”
Tennessee drew first blood as it got off to a quick 6-0 start after nearly five minutes of first half play. Jordan Bone, Williams and Schofield each had a bucket, as they forced Florida to shoot 0-of-5 to start the game.
The Gators got on the board for the first time at the 15:19 mark when Mike Okauru made a layup to end the scoreless streak.
Defense became the name of the game early on, as the teams combined for seven turnovers and 5-of-16 shooting from the field. The Vols had a nearly three-minute scoreless streak that started at the 14:51 mark. However, Florida also struggled, shooting 2-of-11 from the field and turning it over five times.
“They (Tennessee) are one of the best teams in the country,” Gators head coach Mike White said. “They have linebackers like Schofield and Williams that move like guards.”
Both teams finally breached the double-digit point barrier at the 10-minute mark on a fade away 3-point shot from Florida’s Egor Koulechov. The Gators tied the game up with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half. Florida took the lead with five minutes to go on a Chris Chiozza layup.
A 3-pointer from James Daniel III with 3:21 remaining in the half put the Vols up 21-17 and sparked an 11-1 Tennessee run. The Volunteers coasted into the halftime break with a 27-18 lead.
At the half, both teams combined for 18 turnovers and 17 personal fouls.
Williams led Tennessee at the half with 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Gators Koulechov and Chris Chiozza led the team with a combined eight points. Neither team shot above 40 percent from the field. Florida finished 7-of-26 shooting in the first half.
A deep 3-pointer from Chiozza and a layup from Kevarrius Hayes gave the Gators a quick five points in the second half.
The Volunteers ended their three-minute scoring drought to start the second half with shots from beyond-the-arc by Admiral Schofield. Following a Jordan Bowden 3-pointer, the Vols went on a 6-0 run to take a 33-23 lead.
With just over 13 minutes remaining in the game, Florida cut the 10-point deficit down with a 9-0 run capped by an and-one from Keith Stone. The Vols finally stopped the bleeding with a monster dunk from Bowden. A bucket from Williams gave them a 41-36 lead midway through the second half.
An and-one from Schofield put Tennessee on a 7-0 run, as the orange-and-white held the Gators scoreless for three minutes. Koulechov answered with a three, getting Florida back in the game at the 7:19 mark to cut the Volunteers lead to 44-41.
The Volunteers took their second 10-point lead of the game, but 11 second half points from Jalen Hudson kept Florida in the game. Tennessee had just a four-point lead with under two minutes left to play in the game and proceeded to ride Williams for the remainder of the game.
“He is so strong and he’s so disciplined with his ability to post with ultimate physicality,” White said. “He’s versatile, he makes it look easy.”
Bowden iced the win for the Vols at the free throw stripe with 13.6 seconds remaining, giving Tennessee the 62-57 win.
The Volunteers now hit the road to take on Ole Miss this Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics