Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators bounced from SEC Tournament with authority by Tennessee

By Adam Silverstein
March 12, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators bounced from SEC Tournament with authority by Tennessee

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Just one week after losing out on the No. 4 seed and a double bye in the 2021 SEC Tournament to the Tennessee Volunteers, the Florida Gators straight lost to them in the event itself. Florida was walloped 78-66 by Tennessee on Friday in the event’s quarterfinals, never holding a lead in the game.

The Gators (14-9) have now lost three of their last four games entering the 2021 NCAA Tournament after previously having won three straight and looking like they were going to carry some momentum into the postseason. Instead, Florida will be one of the lowest-seeded Power Five teams in March Madness as it continues to watch a season of promise go to waste.

What went down on Friday as the Gators got bounced from the SEC Tournament? Keep on reading for Fastbreak Takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Tennessee completed a 13-3 run just five minutes into the second half to take a 17-point lead at 46-29, its largest advantage of the game. It regained that lead with less than seven minutes to play. Florida trailed by nine coming out of halftime and was only making 30% of its baskets. The higher seed took advantage by answering every score and dominating on both ends of the court over the duration of the contest.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore point guard Tre Mann was a disappointment in the first half, scoring just two points on 1 of 8 shooting while missing all four attempts from beyond the arc. That’s one reason the Gators were hurting so bad entering the break. However, Mann turned things on in a major way over the latter 20 minutes, scoring 28 points on 5 of 7 shooting from deep while hitting 9 of 10 free throws. He finished the game with 30 points but only had one assist compared to three turnovers. Unfortunately, no one else on the team besides Mann stepped up.

Odds and ends: Florida fell to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1984 … the Gators are now 4-5 against the Vols in the event, ending a four-game winning streak against them in the event on Friday … UF falls to 58-79 all-time against UT and 2-7 under head coach Mike White … Florida is now 4-5 in the SEC Tournament under White … the Gators are now 0-6 when scoring 68 points or less this season … Florida fell to 0-8 this season shooting worse than 43% from the field (34.5%) … UF lost its first neutral site game of the campaign (3-1) … sophomore forward Omar Payne was ejected early in the second half with a Flagrant 2 foul … White also picked up a technical foul in the game … UF had just seven assists on 20 baskets compared to 21 on 28 hoops for UT … junior PG Tyree Appleby finished with 14 points but was just 3/13 FG

What it means: The Gators have lost three of their last four games entering the NCAA Tournament after looking like they were going to go on a run to end the season. Florida is now 5-5 in Quadrant 1 games and 8-8 in the first two quadrants with a 6-1 record in the latter two.

Despite the loss of star junior F Keyontae Johnson earlier in the season, the Gators appeared to be set to bounce back behind the trio of Mann, junior F Colin Castleton and sophomore guard Scottie Lewis. However, Lewis fell off significantly down the stretch, becoming mostly ineffective, and Castleton has been largely neutralized as of late despite playing well throughout most of the conference schedule. Mann has excelled, but he cannot carry the team on his own.

Instead of entering the NCAA Tournament with momentum and hope for a surprise run, the exact opposite is the case for UF. No one will be surprised if it is bounced in the first round of the event — depending on the matchup — as there has been absolutely no consistency shown by the Gators this season.

What’s next? Florida will wait to learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday. The Gators will certainly be placed in the bottom half of the bracket. They were expected to fall in the 7-8 seed range but could tumble down a slot given their lacking play in the SEC Tournament.

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