KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In front of a season-high crowd of 22,261, No. 1 Tennessee’s high-flying second half helped the Vols top the Florida Gators, 73-61, Saturday.
Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) pushes its win streak to 18 games, the longest streak in Rick Barnes‘ 32-year head coaching career.
Tennessee had four players score in double figures, with Grant Williams’ team-high 16 points leading the way to go along with a team-high six rebounds. Admiral Schofield, who also grabbed six boards, finished with 14 points.
Schofield provided the punctuation on the Vols’ second victory over the Gators (12-11, 4-6 SEC) this season when his got his defender in the air, drove the baseline and threw it down with two hands to bring the sellout crowd to its feet.
That dunk was a part of a 9-0 run to push the lead to 16 points with less than eight minutes to play. From that point, Tennessee led by double digits the rest of the way.
The Vols pushed the lead to as many as 19 points when Jordan Bowden knocked down a left wing 3-pointer. The junior, who was fouled in the act of shooting, converted the and-one opportunity to make it 69-50 with 5:14 left on the clock.
For much of the game, Tennessee was able to limit the impact of Florida’s leading scorer, KeVaughn Allen. Allen, who was in foul trouble for much of the second half, finished with just 11 points (only two points in the second half on 4-of-12 shooting for the game).
Coming out of the halftime break, the game remained within two scores before a pair of 3-pointers from Lamonte Turner pushed the Tennessee lead back to double digits. On the second, Turner got Gators big man Kevarrius Hayes on the switch and drilled the three over the 6-9 center from the top of the key.
Turner’s nine points in the second half help lead Tennessee to its third consecutive victory over Florida, including double-digit margins of victory in both of the games this season.
After Florida had the lead for the first four minutes of play, Tennessee held the Gators without a point for nearly five minutes as the Vols went on an 11-0 run.
The run was capped off by a Bowden putback slam to give UT a 16-8 lead with 11:36 to play in the first half.
The lead continued to grow as Vols kept Florida from getting the ball in the basket. On the other end, Tennessee continued to knock down shots, extending its lead to 32-16 after Williams converted on an and-one opportunity with just under five minutes to play in the first half.
At that point, the Gators were shooting just 24 percent (5-of-21) from the field.
The combination of Jalen Hudson and Allen brought Florida back within a two-possession game at half, as both Gator guards finished the half with nine points apiece. Hudson and Allen netted 18 of the final 22 points for Florida, including an Allen 3-pointer with 1:03 on the clock to make it a six-point game.
The Vols took that 36-30 edge into the locker room with Schofield and Williams leading the way with eight points each.
UT’s Offense Can’t Be Stopped: Despite Florida allowing a league-best 63.4 points per game, the Vols were able to best that by 10 points with 73 points on Saturday. During the last meeting on Jan. 12, Tennessee exceeded that average with 78 points. UT also knocked down 54 percent of its field goals on the night, when the Gators came in allowing opponents to shoot 42 percent from the floor.
Streaks Stay Alive: With Saturday’s win, Tennessee extends its program-record win streak to 18 games, marking the longest of Rick Barnes‘ 32-year head coaching career and the longest active win streak in Division I. The home win also marked the 22nd victory in a row at Thompson-Boling Arena, which is the longest home win streak of the Barnes era.
Perfect in SEC: The Vols are now 10-0 in SEC play, their best start since the 1976-77 season. The Big Orange’s streak in regular-season SEC games extends to a program-record of 14 games. UT is now 7-1 all-time as the AP’s top-ranked team.
Up Next: Tennessee is back inside Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday when the Vols welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Knoxville. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.