‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’ power No. 19 Vols past Florida

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

No. 15 Lady Vols look to get back on track in Gainesville

Florida (11-16, 3-11 SEC) plays host to the Lady Vols in Gainesville Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Tennessee won the last two meetings with the Gators, but the Lady Vols are currently on their first two-game losing streak in over a month. The Volunteers sit five games back from Mississippi State for the lead in the SEC, while Florida sits 11 games back.

Tennessee’s four-game winning streak finally snapped Feb. 15 in a 72-63 loss to Alabama in Knoxville. Just three days later, the Lady Vols fell to No. 13 Missouri 77-73. Tigers guard Sophie Cunningham exploded for 32 points.

Surprisingly, the Volunteers out-rebounded Missouri by a 30-28 margin and only committed 14 turnovers in the loss. Tennessee’s inability to get any other player than Jaime Nared or Mercedes Russell involved in the offense became problematic. Nared and Russell combined for 35 points, 14 rebounds and six steals, but no other players tallied over 10 points. The guard duo of Rennia Davis and Evina Westbrook combined for 18 points but shot just 5-of-16 from the field.

In the second quarter, the Lady Vols came back from a 13-point deficit and knotted the game up, but Cunningham proved too much for Tennessee. Tennessee held Missouri to just six points from the field in the final quarter, but the Tigers tallied 11 points from the free throw line.

“We got in foul trouble early and got down early,” Vols head coach Holly Warlick said. “As a coach, when you lose a game like this it’s really disappointing, but I’m really proud of our kids.”

After losing its first six games, Florida got back on track Sunday with a big 88-71 win over Vanderbilt. Despite committing 17 turnovers, the Gators out-rebounded the Commodores by a 48-29 margin and shot over 50 percent from the field to win. Four Florida players scored over 16 points Sunday, including a team-high 25 points from guard Funda Nakkasoglu.

Only one starter for Vanderbilt scored more than 10 points. Commodore Rachel Bell scored 22 points. The Gators forced Vanderbilt to shoot just 40 percent from the field and 7-of-28 from deep range on the night. Although they snapped the losing streak, Florida now has both a five-game and a six-game losing streak this season.

“Well first of all, I feel like it gives us confidence. Yeah, we lost two games and some really close games, but we bounce back every game,” Gators head coach Cameron Newbauer said. “It’s the confidence part that we can conquer, and we can beat a lot of really good teams.”

Tennessee may be able to dominate this match up at the post, but Florida has shown that they can control the paint as well. If the Lady Vols don’t see solid production from Russell and Nared, this game could be closer than expected.

Edited by Ben McKee 

Featured image courtesy of Channing Curtis

No. 19 Tennessee looking to bounce back with win over Florida

Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC) travels to Knoxville to face off against Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. The Volunteers have lost five of the last six games against the Gators, losing their previous matchup with Florida.

In 2017, the No. 24 ranked Gators handed Tennessee an 83-70 loss in Gainesville. The last time the two teams played in Knoxville came in 2016. Tennessee came out on top with 26 points from Kevin Punter.

The last two games for Florida have been decided by a combined six points, and neither game went in the Gatos favor. Florida fell to Georgia 72-69, and then lost to Vanderbilt by a score of 71-68 in Nashville on Saturday. The Gators lost despite forcing the Commodores to turn the ball over 11 times and shoot 43 percent from the field.

Vanderbilt was down by 11 points with just 14 minutes remaining in the game on Saturday. However, the Commodores won their fifth straight game in Memorial Gym with a combined 47 points from Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance.

“The only thing consistent about this team (Florida) is our inconsistency,” said Gators head coach Mike White.

Despite the loss, sophomore Keith Stone led Florida with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Egor Koulechev and junior Jalen Hudson were the only other Gators with over 10 points in the game, as they combined for 11 rebounds. Senior guard Chris Chiozza registered just six points and six assists in the loss.

“He’s experienced and he’s very fast and they do a lot with him. He puts a lot of pressure on you on defense past the ball,” said Barnes about Chiozza. “He’s moving the whole time and he keeps the ball moving. He’s been around this league a long time and he’s had a lot of success.”

The Volunteers are fresh off an embarrassing 73-62 loss to Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs finished off Tennessee 73-62 thanks to forward Yante Maten scoring a team-high 19 points. Most alarming for the Vols was their offensive inefficiency, as they shot just 34 percent from the field and made just 8-of-25 three-pointers.

“I think the biggest variable this time of year is rebounding. I think that you got to control the boards. You certainly have to control your defensive boards,” said Barnes. “You cannot have unforced turnovers this time of year.”

Tennessee had four players reach double-digit points in Saturday’s game, including Lamonte Turner’s 14 points and three rebounds. The big man duo of Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to leave Athens with a win.

The Vols are going to need more production from their forward Grant Williams, who shot just 1-of-8 from the field and tallied five points. Tennessee also needs to get back to dominating on the boards or it could be a long night for the Vols.

Edited by Ben McKee

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics 

Which lower-seeded team can win the SEC Tournament?

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University

Most predictions of the SEC Tournament include the Kentucky Wildcats and the Florida Gators facing off in the final. However, the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-14, 10-8 SEC) are the No. 7 seed and have been on a roll lately, making them a threat to take home the championship.

The Commodores have won five of their last six games with wins over South Carolina, Texas A&M and Florida. Vanderbilt is slated to play the No. 10-seed Aggies in the first game and will play the No. 2 seed Gators, who they beat in the final game of the regular season, if they get past A&M.

The last meeting between Vanderbilt and the Aggies on Feb. 16 resulted in a 72-62 victory for the black and gold. In the win, the Commodores had four players with double-digit points and were led in scoring by junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis who had 14 points. Senior Luke Kornet also contributed to the Vandy win by posting his third double-double of the season.

During the Commodores’ hot streak, they also beat Mississippi State by 29 points in a game where junior forward Jeff Robinson and guard Riley LaChance combined for 34 points and seven rebounds. Vandy received double-digit points from Kornet in this blowout win. Also, the Commodores only lost to a No. 9-ranked Kentucky team by six points. In this 73-67 loss, Vanderbilt got a huge 21-point game from Kornet and 15 points from sophomore guard Joe Toye. However, the ‘Dores did not get much help from the bench as three of the four players to come off the bench combined for 26 minutes on the floor and scored no points.

With the exception of the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, Vanderbilt is easily the hottest team in the SEC right now. The Commodores have proven that they have the ability to beat one of the top two teams in the SEC Tournament in Florida, who they swept in the season series. They also beat No. 3-seed Arkansas as well as No. 4-seed South Carolina. Vanderbilt could very easily take care of Texas A&M and go on to play the Gators and beat them for the third time this season. If the Commodores manage to take out Florida, they would no doubt be able to hang with the winner of the matchup between Arkansas or Ole Miss. In the end they could very likely go on to the SEC Championship and face off against any one of the teams that they have recently competed in a close game against.

On the right night, Vanderbilt can hang with any SEC team on the court, including Kentucky. If the Commodores manage to have multiple players with double-digit points and get help from their bench, look for them to go deep in the SEC Tournament.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by John Russell, courtesy of Vanderbilt University

Around the SEC: Men’s basketball weekly recap

Photo by Brad Blackwelder

Week of Feb. 27 – March 5

Volunteers split games with LSU and Alabama

Tennessee continued its season-long trend of showing up for some games and not for others. The Vols dropped an important game against LSU in Baton Rouge earlier in the week, 92-82. Grant Williams came up big with 16 points and 14 rebounds. This loss extended Tennessee’s losing streak to three games, but the streak was severed later in the week. The Vols rallied late on Senior night to beat Alabama 59-54. Williams again came up big with 16 points and 10 rebounds. This game was a tale of two halves. Alabama was 7-9 from deep in the first half but the Volunteer’s defense only allowed 18 total points in the second.

Vanderbilt stays too hot to handle in victory over Florida

The Commodores have now won four of their last five after their win against the Gators. Vanderbilt improved to 10-8 in the SEC with the 73-71 win and the Gators dropped to 14-4. Commodore forward Luke Kornet led all scores with 24 points and also had six rebounds and two blocks. The Commodores have put together an impressive resume for the NCAA tournament. They are considered a bubble team and have a realistic chance for an at-large bid.

Kentucky keeps rolling down the stretch

The Wildcats are on an eight-game win streak after wins over Vanderbilt and Texas A&M. The No. 9 Wildcats are dominating the SEC and are peaking at exactly the right time for tournament play. Malik Monk was the leading scorer for Kentucky with 27 points in the win over the Commodores, and De’Aaron Fox was the leading scorer with 19 against the Aggies. With the win over Texas A&M, the Wildcats clinched the SEC regular season title. Kentucky is projected to win the SEC tournament and has a great shot to win the NCAA tournament.

All results

Alabama Crimson Tide – W 70-55 vs Ole Miss, L 59-54 at Tennessee

Arkansas Razorbacks – L 78-65 at Florida, W 85-67 vs Georgia

Auburn Tigers – L 79-78 at Georgia, W 89-78 vs Missouri

Florida Gators – W 78-65 vs Arkansas, L 73-71 at Vanderbilt

Georgia Bulldogs – W 79-78 vs Auburn, L 85-67 at Arkansas

Kentucky Wildcats – W 73-67 vs Vanderbilt, W 71-63 at Texas A&M

LSU Tigers – W 92-82 vs Tennessee, L 88-76 at Mississippi State

Mississippi State Bulldogs – L 63-57 at South Carolina, W 88-76 vs LSU

Missouri Tigers – L 60-43 vs Texas A&M, L 89-78 at Auburn

Ole Miss Rebels – L 70-55 at Alabama, W 75-70 vs South Carolina

South Carolina Gamecocks – W 63-57 vs Mississippi State, L 75-70 at Ole Miss

Tennessee Volunteers – L 92-82 at LSU, W 59-54 vs Alabama

Texas A&M Aggies – W 60-43 at Missouri, L 71-63 vs Kentucky

Vanderbilt Commodores – L 73-67 at Kentucky, W 73-71 vs Florida

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Brad Blackwelder

Top SEC Men’s Basketball performers of the week

Malik Monk, Guard, Kentucky

Monk’s performance against a No. 13 Florida team that beat the Wildcats by 22 points just six games ago was good enough to earn him a spot on this list. Monk got off to a slow start, contributing just three points to Kentucky’s 30-28 halftime lead. However, Monk made history in the second half. He exploded for 30 points in the final half, the most ever in a half by a Wildcat player under head coach John Calipari. Monk finished with 33 points, five assists and four rebounds in the 76-66 win over the Gators that put Kentucky back in the driver’s seat for the regular season SEC crown.

J.J. Frazier, Guard, Georgia

After losing a tough 82-77 contest against Kentucky the week before, Georgia traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. JJ Frazier was fresh off of a 36-point game against the Wildcats and he continued his success against Alabama. Although the Bulldogs won in a close 60-55 game, they never trailed. Frazier’s big game came with little to no help from his teammates as none of them had over 10 points in the game. Frazier shined once again scoring 28 points and snagging three rebounds, making it his eighth game in a row with double-digit points.

Coming fresh off of the win in Tuscaloosa, Georgia had a home game in Athens to take on the LSU Tigers. At one point in the first half, the Bulldogs led by 17 points, but the Tigers made a comeback in the second half and lead the game with under a minute to go. However, Frazier made two free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining to lift Georgia over LSU in an 82-80 win. Before the game, Frazier was reported to have flu-like symptoms, but still was able to record 29 points and eight assists.

KeVaughn Allen, Guard, Florida

To start off the week, Kevaughn Allen and Florida had a home contest against South Carolina, who beat them in their previous meeting this year. In the first meeting against the Gamecocks, the Gators made none of their 17 attempts from the 3-point line. This game was far different as Florida went 9-19 from deep. Allen led the Gators on the stat sheet with 26 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the 88-61 blowout in Gainesville. Allen has blossomed as a player since the first meeting between these two teams, where he recorded just one point.

Florida then traveled to the daunting Rupp Arena to take on the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats. The hostile Gators defense was able to shut down the machine that is Malik Monk to just three points in the first half. However, in the second half, the Wildcats shot 64 percent from the field and Monk took over and scored 30 points in 20 minutes. Although the Gators lost the game and their nine-game win streak, Allen still stuffed the stat sheet scoring 24 points while making five shots from beyond the arc.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Chet White, courtesy of UK Athletics