The Tennessee Volunteers had a chance to show the conference that they belonged among the top tier of SEC teams Saturday when they traveled to Gainesville to face the sixth ranked Florida Gators.
Tennessee had won the last three competitions with Florida, but Saturday was a completely different story as the Gators dominated from the opening tip until the final buzzer, sending the Vols back to .500 in the SEC at 3-3.
Jarnell Stokes led the Vols with 16 points and 10 rebounds, recording his 10th double-double on the season. He was the only offense Tennessee had all game as Senior Jordan McRae never found his offensive rhythm, going 1-15 from the field and only scored five points just three days after he recorded a season-high 34 points. Tennessee went an awful 15-56 from the field and only had one player, Stokes, score in double-digits while Florida had four players score double-digits. Guard Scottie Wilbekin had his way with the Tennessee defense, scoring 13 points and Michael Frazier II led all scorers with 17 points going 5-8 from the field and 3-6 from three-point range.
Florida has arguably the best defense in the SEC and they showed it early on against the Vols; they set up a full-court press that Tennessee struggled to break away from every time down the floor. The Vols wasted a timeout and committed a couple of turnovers in the first half due to Florida’s stingy defense. The press completely took away any type of tempo Tennessee was trying to establish on the offensive side of the floor and as a result, Tennessee was never able to find their offensive groove.
Even though they lacked a consistent offense, Tennessee and Stokes kept the game relatively close in the first half, only trailing by seven at the break. The second half began with a 21-5 run by the Gators, who then began to completely take over the game and coasted to the finish line from there.
Tennessee drops to 12-7 and 3-3 in conference play and will try to regroup Wednesday, as the team returns to Knoxville to take on a good Ole Miss team, who is currently 3rd in the SEC.
Edited by Will Lomas