Florida vs. Tennessee score: Gators again fall apart late as No. 3 Vols triumph

By Adam Silverstein
January 12, 2019
Florida vs. Tennessee score: Gators again fall apart late as No. 3 Vols triumph

Image Credit: UAA Communications

The Florida Gators did not have a commanding lead Saturday night like they did in their prior two games, but Florida nonetheless found a way to play good basketball for a large portion of the game only to fall apart once again late in a contest. That’s how the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers survived at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to pick up their first win in Gainesville, Florida, since 2012.

The Gators (9-6, 1-2 SEC) have now lost two of their last three games and seen opponents surge late in those meetings. The Vols (14-1, 3-0 SEC) avoided becoming the first top-five program to fall to UF since 2009 despite the teams being tied at 63 late. UT triumphed 78-67.

Let’s take a look at what went down in Florida’s latest loss.

It was over when … redshirt senior guard Jalen Hudson missed a three-pointer with 32 seconds left and Florida down five. While there was still time left for the Gators to come back, two subsequent free throws by the Vols put them up seven just seconds later.

The teams traded 8-0 runs early in the second half as UF first went on a 6:19 drought without a field goal but soon found itself in the bonus with nine minutes to play. Tennessee tied it at 63, took a lead shortly thereafter and ended the game on an extended 18-4 scoring stretch over the final six minutes of the game. Florida’s only points came on a jumper by senior guard Kevaughn Allen with 3:35 to play and a pair of free throws with 1:25 left. Freshman guard Noah Locke missed a triple for the lead with 1:14 to go, and Allen on the bench for Hudson’s aforementioned trey and most of the game’s final minute. It was later explained that Allen could not be substituted into the game during a dead ball clock review, but a timeout could have been called.

Exceptional efforts: Making the benching of Allen even more confusing is the fact that he was the Gators’ best player on Saturday, scoring a team-high 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Locke scored 16 points, but the duo scored 22 of their 34 points in the first half and were less successful in the latter 20 minutes.

Odds and ends: Florida made 12 treys and just seven field goals in the game, compared to nine and 20 for Tennessee, respectively … Hudson and freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard combined to go 2-for-17 from the field and 0-for-7 from downtown … UF made less than 40 percent of its shots for a third straight game and the seventh time in 15 games … the Vols outrebounded the Gators 36-28 and dominated both paint scoring (34-12) and bench scoring (31-21) … Florida has not defeated a top-five team since 2009 nor a top-five SEC team since 2005 … it is 0-4 under head coach Mike White against top-five teams and 10-17 against AP Top 25 teams … Tennessee won its first game in Gainesville since 2012 … UT is now 75-54 all-time against UF and 3-1 against White

What it means: It’s tough to have a huge takeaway from this game considering Tennessee is truly a superior team to Florida. The Vols were favored by three points in this game, and the final score is not indicative of how close it was throughout. Still, the Gators failed when it mattered the most, and the curious decision to not call a timeout with Allen stuck on the bench late with the game still in reach is something White must answer.

Up next: Florida will travel to Mississippi State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will air nationally on SEC Network. The No. 14 Bulldogs just fell 81-77 to rival Ole Miss on Saturday and have dropped consecutive games.

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