The Tennessee Volunteers travelled to Gainesville, FL on Saturday looking to win their first road game of the year while sweeping the No. 7/8 Florida Gators in the season series between the two teams for the first time since 2009. Tennessee succeeded in both of those goals, snapping Florida’s 19-game home winning streak at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center with a dominant 75-70 victory and handing UF back-to-back losses for the first time in two seasons.
The Volunteers (13-12, 5-5 SEC) upended the Gators (19-6, 7-3 SEC) with stellar defense and relentless effort on the offensive glass. Tennessee outrebounded Florida 36-30 (12-6 offensively) and also outscored the home team 36-14 in the paint and 17-8 on second chances. The Gators struggled shooting the ball for the second-straight game, connecting on just 42.6 percent of their field goals and 36.7 percent of their attempts from downtown.
Despite donning special Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms and having an excited crowd behind them, Florida got off to an extremely slow start, hitting just four of their first 14 attempts from the field and falling behind 12 points to Tennessee, which used an impressive 15-2 run to jump out to the early lead.
During the Volunteers’ scoring stretch, Gators sophomore forward Will Yeguete went up for a block and fell down onto the court, hitting the top of his head into the stand supporting the basket. After being checked out by trainers, Yeguete left the game and never returned. He had a cut above his right eye, received stitches in the locker room and may have also suffered a concussion.
Yeguete’s injury forced him to become the third Florida player sitting out for the game as redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) and redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) did not dress for the contest.
The Gators got within 10 of the Volunteers soon after coming out of the break when senior point guard Erving Walker drained a three that moved him into No. 5 on Florida’s all-time scoring list ahead of Dwayne Schintzius. However, Tennessee continued to pile it on and went back ahead 16 with 6:01 to play, keeping UF at more than an arm’s length for the duration of the contest.
Cutting their deficit to nine twice due in part to a pair of threes by junior F Erik Murphy, the Gators wound up falling by just five despite the Volunteers holding on for victory by hitting their foul shots and playing sound defense until the buzzer.
Tennessee G Trae Golden led all scorers with 17 points due to going 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. F Jeronne Maymon was dominant in the paint for the Vols, scoring 15 points and grabbing a game-high 11 boards.
Boynton and freshman G Bradley Beal, who hit 11-of-13 free throws, each posted 16 points for Florida. The Gators’ starting five accounted for 12 of the team’s 15 turnovers and all but 10 of the team’s points.
Florida will attempt to rebound from a pair of tough losses this past week by taking their game on the road Tuesday against Alabama (7 p.m. on ESPN) and Thursday against Arkansas (6 p.m. ESPN2). The Gators are expected to fall sharply when the new top 25 polls are released on Monday.