Fastbreak: No. 1 Gators pull away to top Vols 56-49, advance to 2014 SEC Tournament finals

Coming back from its second-largest halftime deficit of the season, the No. 1 Florida Gators (31-2) fought hard to take down the Tennessee Volunteers (21-12) in the second half and pull away for a 56-49 victory in the semifinals of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Florida did not trail for the final nine minutes of the contest after facing a consistent deficit over the first 31 minutes of the game but eventually extended its winning streak to 25-straight games dating back to Dec. 2, 2013. UF outscored UT 28-14 in the second half, holding its opponent without a field goal for a 9:29 stretch.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Leading by two with less than two minutes to play, Florida took off on a fastbreak created by a steal from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. Senior forward Casey Prather exploded to the hoop for a dunk but was grabbed around the waist with two hands by Antonio Barton, who was assessed a flagrant foul. Prather made both free throws (after missing two earlier) to give UF a 53-49 lead with 1:21 left. UT did not score again. Prather posted 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with a team-high five assists though he did commit four turnovers.

Prominent player: Senior center Patric Young put together a dynamite second half, scoring 12 points in the latter 20 minutes to finish with team-highs of 16 points and eight boards on the afternoon. Young also hit all four of his free throws, including two in the final seconds, to help the Gators put the game away.

Significant stretch: Florida opened the second half with a 10-2 scoring stretch, taking advantage of four Tennessee turnovers to erase its seven-point halftime deficit and retake the lead 38-37 with 14:49 to play. The Gators would give up their lead again as they went back-and-forth with the Vols, but the 10-2 run helped UF regain its confidence after a difficult first half.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.

First half focus: Leading by two with about six minutes remaining until the break, Tennessee went on an 8-0 run to hand Florida its first double-digit deficit since Nov. 12, 2013 at Wisconsin. The Gators went 4:51 without a point and were eventually able to cut the Vols’ lead to single-digits in the final seconds of the opening period when Wilbekin hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to get UF within seven of UT. Wilbekin left with 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, forcing a team-high four steals in the process.

Perfect play: With nine minutes left in the game, Young saved a rebound by diving out of bounds. The ball quickly wound up in the hands of sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, who drained his first and only three-pointer of the game to put Florida up 45-43 on Tennessee. Though the Vols tied the game four minutes later with two free throws, the Gators never fell behind for the duration of the contest. Frazier scored seven points, only attempting two shots from beyond the arc, but grabbed four boards and matched Wilbekin with four steals.

Standout stat: Both teams saw almost no scoring contribution from their respective bench with each only getting five points from its non-starters. There were also three total technical fouls in the game with UT’s Jeronne Maymon and UF redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith each fouling out of the contest.

What it means: Florida advances to the finals of the SEC Tournament for the second-straight year and third time in the last four seasons but has not won a tournament crown since 2007. The Gators also fought back from their second-largest halftime deficit of the season and won a game after trailing by double digits for the first time during the 2013-14 campaign. UF is now 4-0 in neutral-site games this season.

Next up: Florida will face the victor from the other semifinal – Kentucky vs. Georgia – on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. for the SEC Tournament Championship. UK and UGA square off Saturday afternoon. UF is 3-0 combined this season against the two teams. The Gators are 3-6 all-time in SEC Tournament finals, winning three-straight from 2005-07 but losing in 1934, 1989, 1994, 2004, 2011 and 2013.

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12 Responses to “Fastbreak: No. 1 Gators pull away to top Vols 56-49, advance to 2014 SEC Tournament finals”

  1. Gatoralum88 says:

    What a game! They’ve played GREAT 2nd half D in this tourney (holding Mizzou to 20 & UT to just 14!!!…AWESOME!!!) which will bode well come next week. As usual, the SENIORS leading the way (LOVE ‘EM!). Go Gators!!!
    Criticisms: Bench must play better from here on out…Hill had a sloppy game & was out of control at times…while Walker was a liability when out there. All this “SkyWalker” stuff is silly at this point. He really needs to start stepping up! Young can’t do it alone inside & there are only tougher games to come. If I hear Walker’s name mentioned with the NBA 1 more time I may puke!…he’d be in the D-league or Europe in no time.

    • Tractorr says:

      In fairness, UT is one of the physically toughest teams we will face from here on out. Few teams have their length and size.

      • Gatoralum88 says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like being critical of this team because it plays it’s heart out EVERY game…& my heart goes out to ‘em. I also find it hard to be critical of this team, but, if they want to win it all they’ll likely need more front court help off the bench. DFS has been GREAT!…6th man of the year. When he got into foul trouble today Walker didn’t add much if anything. Billy practically called him out in his interview. He needs to start living up to his hype. “C’mon Sky…you’ve been with the team since December, you shouldn’t be playing like such a freshman right now”. Hill, though, just had a bad game but has otherwise really come on of late. Go Gators!!!

      • Ken (CA) says:

        If UT had played with the intensity and toughness all season that they played with today, they wouldn’t be sitting on their couch tomorrow waiting to see if they get an NCAA bid!

  2. TST says:

    I need a Valium pronto ! Wow , tough game against the Actors from Tennessee ! PY high score . Don’t know how but works for me . World class D second half = 14 points . 14 points is all this team gave up .Tenacious , Wow . They just will not lose . So says ‘Jello Man’ as i melt on the floor time after time again !!

  3. Timmy T says:

    Sloppy game offensively, but once again our defense rises to the occasion. It might be old and it might be a bit played out, but the bottom line is defense wins championships. The Florida Gators basketball team of 2013-2014 plays the best damn defense I’ve ever seen from a college team, and I’m 47 years old with 35 years of watching the game under my belt. That gives us a great shot going forward. Just need to hope we aren’t crazy cold and the opponent is crazy hot in the same game.

  4. ScottyB says:

    I think Pat Adams is one of the worst officials we have in the league. He has been a thorn in Billy’s side all year. The double technical in the first half was weak, he made a bad call on Maymon and was totally fooled by the Wilbekin elbow/Barton acting job…And I am sick and tired of the cheap, pathetic “give back” calls that seem to come from the officials in our league after a coach gets on them…Stand up, take control and be consistent both ways. Not too much to ask…

    Having said that, our guys played their guts out in the 2nd half. Quite an accomplishment to hold that athletic team to 14 points in the 2nd half.

  5. Gatoralum88 says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like being critical of this team because it plays its heart out EVERY game…& my heart goes out to ‘em. I also find it hard to be critical of this team, but, if they want to win it all they’ll likely need more front court help off the bench. DFS has been GREAT!…6th man of the year. When he got into foul trouble today Walker didn’t add much if anything. Billy practically called him out in his interview. He needs to start living up to his hype. “C’mon Sky…you’ve been with the team since December, you shouldn’t be playing like such a freshman right now”. Hill, though, just had a bad game but has otherwise really come on of late. Go Gators!!!

  6. uf_84 says:

    Ugly or not, just win baby. That’s what I love about this team. They can blow teams out, or if no one has the hot hand shooting they will grind it out with lock down defense. Looks like we get the Cats again tomorrow and there sure to bring it just like UT did today. Gonna have to bring big blue down for a 3rd time to take it. Whatever happens, this has been a great warm up for the big dance.

  7. Michael Jones says:

    Our boys showed a lot of character. . AGAIN. When we can’t throw a free throw in the ocean, our bench had an off night, our overall offense was off, and yet we still won against a team that was pretty talented and determined (agree with you, Ken, about if UT had played that way all year) to pull off the upset and had a ten point lead towards the end of the 1st half and never stopped battling us in a see-saw game . . amazing.

    I disagree about Pat Adams. The Maymon call was a good call, and on the Wilbekin phantom elbow, Scottie did nick the guy, and the refs at least didn’t really goof up and give him a flagrant after the review (they ought to be able to T-em up when they catch-em faking like that kid did). Some bad calls both ways (evens out) and NCAA officials will never get the principle of verticality on those flailing out of control drives to the basket. . but, all in all, not a horribly called game.

    • Michael Jones says:

      Also happy that Jordan McRae’s Marshall-Henderson-Junior histrionics didn’t get rewarded (or a more of a platform) with a win.

    • SC Gator says:

      … did you watch the same game I did? The fact it was poorly called against both teams doesn’t absolve the refs of being really, REALLY, terrible.

      Which has been the state of SEC officiating this year really. Not crooked but really terrible.

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