KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A complete effort on both ends of the court and 26 points from senior guard Kevin Punter Jr. propelled Tennessee to an 83-69 victory over the Gators Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Admiral Schofield followed up a career-high 22 in the Vols’ Southeastern Conference opener with 17 against Florida. Robert Hubbs III added 12 and Detrick Mostella 10 to give UT four players in double figures.
Tennessee stormed out to a commanding 53-31 at halftime and led by as many as 30 in the second half. The halftime advantage was the largest for a Tennessee team since leading Auburn by 24, 44-20, in the 2014 SEC Tournament. The 53 points were the most Florida had allowed in a half all season, including four games in which they held their opponent under that mark for the game.
Punter was a big reason for the first-half success, scoring 18 of his 26 in the opening half. The senior was 7-of-8 from the field in the first half, 3-of-3 from beyond the 3-point arc. Schofield had 15 of his 17 in the first half on 7-of-11 shooting.
Despite a significant size disadvantage, the Vols won the rebounding battle, 49-40, and outscored the Gators in the paint, 32-24.
KeVaughn Allen led Florida with 18 points, Devin Robinson had 13, Dorian Finney-Smith 12 and Justin Leon 11.
Home Sweet Home: The Vols continued their perfect start to the season at home with the victory. Tennessee is now 8-0 at the friendly confines of Thompson-Boling Arena this season, a run that snapped a three-game losing streak for the Vols in SEC home openers. Tennessee’s last victory in a SEC home opener also came against the Gators, 67-56, in 2012.
The win also halted Florida’s four-game win streak in the series. The Vols’ last win over the Gators was a 64-58 triumph in Knoxville on Feb. 26, 2013.
Smokey Grey Debut: The long-awaited debut of the Nike Smokey Grey uniforms may not have been the key factor in victory, but the sharp look matched the sharp play in the win.
The uniforms pay homage to the 1911 and 1912 Volunteers teams with a dark grey stripe across the chest. The game marked was just the second time since 1950 in which the Vols wore grey uniforms (a 2014 SEC Tournament game against Florida is the other) and the first time they have ever been worn in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Gator Hunting: With a 14-point win, the Vols posted the largest victory over Florida since a 16-point win (79-63) on Jan. 31, 2009, in Knoxville. For much of the game, the Vols flirted with what would have been the largest win since a 35-point victory (91-56) on Feb. 10, 1999, in Knoxville or a 22-point win (104-82) on Feb. 5, 2008 in Knoxville.