Updated: No. 1 Tennessee too much for Florida, 73-61

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Tennessee forward Kyle Alexander (11) attempts to block the shot of Florida freshman forward Keyontae Johnson (11) during the first half Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP photo/Wade Payne)
By Steve Megargee, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s players resisted the temptation of staging a repeat performance of a postgame “Gator chomp” after their latest victory over Florida.

The sellout crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena did it instead.

Grant Williams scored 16 points as the top-ranked Volunteers defeated Florida 73-61 on Saturday to extend their school-record winning streak to 18 games.

Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) owns the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. This also marks the biggest winning streak of Rick Barnes’ 32-year head coaching career, surpassing the 17-game string that started Texas’ 2009-10 season.

“I appreciate how hard they’ve competed,” Barnes said. “I appreciate the fact they do want to get better, and we can get better. I think they believe, like our coaching staff, that our best basketball’s ahead of us. It’s not going to be easy, but they’re competitive. Where we are, they deserve the credit.”

Tennessee’s winning streak includes a 78-67 victory at Florida on Jan. 12. Immediately after that game ended, all five Tennessee players on the floor performed a “Gator chomp ” in a mock version of the cheer favored by Florida fans. Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield said at the time the Vols were responding to “disrespectful” and “inhumane” comments Florida fans had made during the game.

This time, Tennessee’s players had a more muted celebration but fans started doing the Gator chomp in the final minute and continued it as the final horn sounded.

“Poetic justice,” said Schofield, one of four Tennessee players to score in double figures. “At the same time, it’s all in good fun. A deep rivalry, but many years of tough, hard-fought football games, tough basketball games. At the end of the day, I think a lot of people just enjoy the intensity of our rivalry with Florida.”

Florida (12-11, 4-6) lost its third straight and fourth in its last five games. The Gators are 0-17 all-time in regular season games vs. AP No. 1 teams.

“They’re the best team in the country,” Florida coach Michael White said. “They’re equally as good defensively as they are offensively.”

Schofield scored 14 points, Jordan Bowden had 13 and Jordan Bone added 10 for Tennessee. Noah Locke scored 17, Jalen Hudson had 15 and KeVaughn Allen added 11 for Florida.

Tennessee led by as many as 16 late in the first half before Florida rallied to get within 36-30 at the intermission.

Florida cut Tennessee’s lead to 40-36 with 17:37 left, but Tennessee answered with a 12-2 run that included consecutive 3-pointers from Lamonte’ Turner. After Florida scored seven straight points to get the margin down to seven, Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run that featured another Turner 3-pointer plus two dunks from Schofield.

Schofield said after the game that the Vols responded to the way Barnes had challenged them.

“Winning isn’t what it’s about,” Schofield said. “That’s not why we got into the game of basketball. Competing is why we got into the game of basketball. That’s what we love about basketball. This week we’ve been doing a lot more competitive drills… just really getting the juices focusing and it really helped us really refocus on why we started playing this game.

“When you’re winning so much and winning consecutively like this, you can get lost in it and little things become big things. We didn’t want that as a team. We had to get back to realizing why we even started paying this game — and that’s competing. Coach challenged us to just go out and compete tonight.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators are barely above .500 but entered this game 42nd in the NET rankings, indicating their postseason chances weren’t over yet. But three straight losses to Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee have dealt a big blow to their hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Gators still have two games with No. 21 LSU plus road trips to Alabama and No. 5 Kentucky.

Tennessee: The Vols have said for several weeks they must recapture the defensive intensity they showed last season. They’ve started showing that form lately. After playing outstanding defense Tuesday in a 72-60 victory over Missouri, the Vols held Florida to a total of three points for a stretch of over nine minutes Saturday.

MEDICAL REPORT

Tennessee was playing without reserve swingman Yves Pons, who had suffered a facial injury while colliding with a teammate during Thursday’s practice.

Barnes expressed optimism that Pons would return Wednesday against South Carolina.

BEST VS. BEST

Tennessee entered the day leading the SEC in scoring (86.0) while Florida had the SEC’s top scoring defense (63.4). Tennessee ended up below its scoring average but still won that matchup by shooting 52.8 percent (28 of 53), including 59.3 percent (16 of 27) in the second half.

UP NEXT

Florida hosts Vanderbilt for a 9 p.m. game Wednesday (On ESPNU).

Tennessee hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.

No. 1 TENNESSEE 73, FLORIDA 61
FLORIDA (12-11)

K.Johnson 3-9 1-2 7, Hayes 1-3 5-6 7, Locke 6-10 0-2 17, Allen 4-12 0-0 11, Nembhard 1-7 0-1 2, Stokes 0-0 0-0 0, Bassett 1-2 0-0 2, Hudson 5-12 5-5 15, Okauru 0-2 0-0 0, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-59 11-16 61.

TENNESSEE (22-1)

Williams 7-11 2-3 16, Schofield 6-11 1-1 14, Alexander 2-5 2-4 6, Turner 3-7 0-0 9, Bone 5-11 0-0 10, Fulkerson 1-2 3-4 5, Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Jancek 0-0 0-0 0, Bowden 4-6 3-4 13, J.Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-53 11-16 73.

Halftime_Tennessee 36-30. 3-Point Goals_Florida 8-26 (Locke 5-8, Allen 3-5, Bassett 0-1, Okauru 0-2, Ballard 0-2, K.Johnson 0-3, Hudson 0-5), Tennessee 6-14 (Turner 3-6, Bowden 2-3, Schofield 1-2, Bone 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 30 (Hayes 9), Tennessee 28 (Williams, Schofield 6). Assists_Florida 11 (Nembhard 5), Tennessee 17 (Bone 5). Total Fouls_Florida 19, Tennessee 16.

58 COMMENTS

  1. Didn’t watch the game but when you are shooting 26 3-pointers, you probably aren’t a very good team. Of course we average almost 25 3-point attempts a game. Almost half of our attempts are 3-pointers. That’s pretty messed up.

    White doesn’t know how to coach or recruit big men. Been a problem since he got here. Probably not going to change.

    • 26 three-pointer attempts.

      TWENTY-SIX.

      That means you have ZERO inside game, and your only hope is to be red-hot every game and make 35 – 40 points off tre’s.

      This is what I have said ad nauseum about Mike White’s offensive philosophy, he is a tunnel-visioned perimeter offense guy who ignores the inside game. He’s too finesse. Look at his next class… highly ranked, but where’s the big, athletic forwards or center? We haven’t had a paint game since Egbunu was here.

      It’s like watching he way Muschamp concentrated on developing just one side of the ball, his defense while he was here, while basically ignoring the offense.

      Scot Striklin needs to pull the plug on Foley’s last major impulse flop-hire and diligently search for a BB coach who knows how to compete at the high level that UF’s program demands. White just isn’t the answer.

  2. Tennessee is a great team this year so do you really expect UF to win? NO way. But this is the same team no matter who UF plays. It’s a 3-point shooting team and nothing else. UF makes more than 33% of it’s 3-pointers it has a good chance to win. It makes less than 33% and there is little chance it will win.

    Too bad we can’t tank for a lottery pick. Might need to leave the SEC if White is going to be the coach.

  3. Well it sounds like a broken record from most of us again. When you have three seniors that are on a team playing then that means they aren’t good enough to play at the next level. In basketball most good players leave before their senior year with the exception of a few but very rarely. Mic said before the game that we are the worst shooting team in the SEC. WTH??? Our defense is one of the best though…This is basketball we need offense not defense. Offense wins games in basketball not defense, it helps for sure but you got to make buckets to win. The stats don’t lie. I really didn’t expect us to beat the #1 team but we suck pretty bad. Even if we make the dance where do you think we are going???? Our BB program has fallen off badly reminds me of what happened to our football program after Meyer left. Damn Billy why did you have to go….lol.

    • Tennessee is the number one team in the country with two seniors who will be playing in the NBA.

      Also, even coach Cal at Kentucky stresses defense with his one and done players because you can’t win without it. Both offense and defense wins basketball games. Did you ever watch Anthony Davis play us when he was at Kentucky? Completely dominated us with his defense.

      It’s a bad year, I get it. Go back and look at Billy’s first few years before you start throwing White under the bus. People wanted to fire Billy a few years into his tenure too.

      • Great points, DallasGator. After the title game appearance in 2000, BD had 5 straight seasons of first weekend exits from the Dance, including two first round upsets. People also seem to forget that his final year was a losing season immediately following a Final Four appearance. This season’s Gators haven’t yet achieved that great a dropoff.

      • Tennessee is a great team this year…that said, I agree…tough to watch, but I can’t call for his head just yet. Again Billy left his with a brick laying team that went 16-17 his late year. He, however, really need to get his bigs in gear though. Will Yuguette was 6′ 7″ and was a great role player for us. I thought Hayes skill set could at least be that type of player..but again, he is more of an off the bench type of talent IMO. The freshmen seem to be pretty good, but when they are the best players on a team with 3 seniors who have played tin the Elite 8 and round of 32…it is touch for the fanbase to swallow. No one saw Hudson playing this poorly though and the offensive sets, spacing and ball movement is atrocious.

  4. This team lacks any fluidity on offense. The lack of scoring bigs make them easy to defend. The other teams just guard the 3 point line, and crash the boards; the Gators are predictable on ‘O.’ The Gators rarely get offensive sets which look like they’ve been practicing them for months.
    Contrary to the local media’s opinion, the NIT may give them more games to play in, thus more practices. And they need all the practice they can get.
    I am not expecting much, though. Bad year for U.F. Men’s Basketball. “Wait ’til next year!”

      • In year 4 with Billy D we made the national championship game. In year 3 we made the Sweet 16. Billy D is a hall of fame coach so far Mike White is not. We need big men not just a guard oriented 3 point team and next year just one big guy coming in. That won;t work against the better teams.

        • You can’t be a hall of fame coach after three years, not even Billy D. Plus, Gak is still hurt and missing the season, Chase Johnson couldn’t stop getting concussions and transferred and Isaiah Stokes can’t seem to stop pounding twinkies.

          Patience is all I’m saying. It’s not pretty I get it, but let’s be a little more reasonable here. The same people calling for Billy’s head up until he won the back to back championships are probably calling for White’s head now.

          • I don’t think as a lot of people are calling to fire White, they are just voicing their concerns and of course some like him. Since White became head coach he has recruited only two guys 6″9″ and over in 5 years of recruiting. Gak and Payne. Hayes was committed to Donovan. Chase Johnson and Bassett were listed at 6’8″ when they were recruited. Right now we’d probably be happy with a bunch of 6’7″- 6’8″ guys. This is a huge issue! We have to have balance in our team!

    • And for those of you that are overly critical of losing to the number 1 team, over the years we probably have been an on-and-off number 1 more than 17 times (don’t know the number) and we pretty much manhandled the teams we played. That’s what no. 1 teams do. They tried tonight. Simply make 2 more 3-pointers, 2 more 2 point shots, and 3 more foul shots and we win. Oh, and I think CMW is fine, look at the class we just got and the one coming in, but somehow we need to recruit some solid bigs.

  5. The sky is falling! the sky is falling! We just played the #! team in the nation to basically the same point spread as last time, 12 points vs 11 points. We actually held the game total points lower than last time. we held them way below their game average. We did much better than most teams that play them. that was their next to lowest point total for a game this year. Ga lost by 46, Tamu-27, Mo-24, SC-22, Ark-19, only vandy(their instate rival) and Al lost by less! Yes we have one of the best defenses in the nation, yes we really struggle on offense but I watched for years as Billy d did the same thing, always failing to live up, always the bridesmaid and never the bride, until the 04″s came and we had a short glory time. So I choose to look for the positives and just enjoy the ride. I think coach White has done a masterful job in getting the players to buy into playing defense. You know its really hard to get most BBall players to do that. he knows he has no shooters so he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got. really, what top players wants to come to UF for Bball? they want Duke, Uk etc etc, a bball school! I saw for years as Billy D has to do the same thing and personally I think coach White has done better at getting them to buy into playing defense than Billy did. We really have an excellent defense, they hold most everyone below their averages. I know they arent going to play for championships so why should i make myself unhappy by complaining about it, it wont change anything! great bball coaches want to go to bball schools where bball is the top priority, not a red headed stepchild to the football program. sure some football schools will catch lightening in a bottle every once in a while like Tn this year and UF with the 04’s but they wont be a perennial contender.

  6. I’m not as committed to following Gator BB as I am to Gator FB. That said, after almost 4 seasons, I can offer some observations on Mike White as HBBC:

    1. Comparing White to Donovan is like comparing McElwayne to Meyer. White has delivered a couple of NCAA Tourney teams in 4 years as HBBC, including a trip to the Elite 8, but nobody will EVER confuse his recruiting with Donovan’s. White will NEVER be the top shelf recruiter Donovan was from day one.

    2. Regardless of their offensive or defensive success, all of White’s teams have been somewhere between mediocre and positively awful at the free throw line. That flaw is fully attributable to poor coaching, just as false start penalties are in football. Note that Donovan’s teams were always between above average and spectacular at the line. Excellence at the foul line dramatically changes the aggressiveness other teams use defending you late in close games, which translates into more wins in tight games.

    3. White has won 20 or more games all 3 prior seasons and I expect that to repeat this season. That sort of consistency is worthwhile as it provides a solid foundation from which to build future special seasons since he’s still young and may grow as a coach. Changing BB coaches now gambles with that foundation in pursuit of championships that may never come.

    I believe Mike White should be retained and supported for a couple of more seasons to see how he matures and develops as HBBC. That said, I was one of those in Gator Nation that were supportive of McElwayne going into 2017, right up until he got all weird and made up death threats from Gator fans that he was never able to prove. That’s when my Gator buddies and I renamed him MElwhiner!

    Go Gators!!!

  7. It was encouraging to see Hudson have a good game but discouraging to see Nembhard not. I wish Allen would get to the line more often, he is money. Overall I’m not suprised by the loss, after all they are #1 in the nation and we are not ranked yet. I’m not giving up on our Gators (never will) because I’m not a whiner.

  8. GATOR FANS–Chill on Mike White and this team. White is starting 3 freshmen in preparation for next year when 2 McDonald’s all-americans will arrive. And his 2020 class is ranked No. 3 in the country. Chill. Every coach has a different style. You can only play a system that will fit your players. This is not a fast-break team and it does NOT have a consistent catch-and-shoot 3 point player. And (Captain Obvious again), Hayes is not a big offensive or defensive weapon. And we play in the SEC, not Conference USA against USF, UCF, et. al.
    I coached overseas for 20 years. I thought this team would be 21-10 going to the conference. Then Hudson and his 15 ppg average went AWOL. Hayes was inadequate and Allen was inconsistent. In comes Nebs at the point to run an offense that has no consistent scorers. Tough situation. Think back to the start of the 05-06 season when Billy started 4 sophomores and a junior. NOBODY had Florida in the Top 50. I think (underline think) this will be a very good team next year and even better in 2020-21. Just my opinion. If White can’t get to the NCAA in 2020-21, he should be gone because he will have so much talent to work with.

    • Cattrick, I really enjoy your posts, esp. in round ball. But I will give Mike White ’til the 2019-2020 season. Why? Because if Florida’s REHAB PROGRAM is still as good as it was when Antonio Morrison came back from an ACL tear he suffered in a Dec. bowl game, and played the 1st game the next season in Sept. only 9 months later, then Gak should be healthy next season, and Keith Stone should be on his way back by Christmas 2019 from his ACL tear. Then Coach White will have some BIG MEN: Gak, K.J. a rising star, Bassett should be greatly improved, and Stokes should be a healthy weight and contributing.
      ‘IF NOT’ then it falls onto one HEAD MAN: the multi-million-dollar Coach, Mike White. And yet, we’ve all been REQUIRED to do our jobs in our lives, and accept RESPONSIBILITY for our short-comings… but NOT for Coach Mike White’s U.F Basketball progam?
      This season is a goner, and we all know it! But ‘2’ back to back years of no NCAA Tourney, and this ”give him more time” will amount to 6 total years! And next season is his 5th season, and that is enough time to get U.F. back to the NCAA TOURNEY!
      ”A fair expectation for -EVERY SEASON- from U.F. basketball fans is for Florida to get into the big dance,” said the very basketball wise, Mark Wise. Next season is MAKE OR BREAK! Pressure makes some of us BETTER! And Mike White has yet to display that trait, to date. Thanks for letting me vent to all!
      Go Gators!

  9. PS: Tennessee started 2 seniors and 3 juniors. Both seniors will be in the NBA and one of the juniors will declare. Hey. Tennessee hasn’t been good in ANYTHING in a long time. So I will give them this one shining moment (compared to the Gators with 8 shining national championships since 1996., The most of any Div I school for football, basketball, baseball and softball) We will see them in September in Gainesville and see who has a shining moment.

  10. Good to see Daz and StL come over from the football boards to bring some voices of reason. Also enjoy cattrick’s view from a coach’s perspective. For those who think CMW ignores the recruitment of bigs, the Gators were set to start the season with six players on the roster who stand 6’8″ or taller. That’s a pretty significant portion of a 15 player roster when two of the 15 are walk-ons. Yes, there’s only one big in the incoming class, but when you can get 5 stars like Mann and Lewis, you sign ’em. If the inside game doesn’t improve significantly next season, I’ll agree CMW has a big problem.

    • Thanks Joe! The desperation that comes at the end of football season with signing day officially in the books drove me to reading BB stories. 😱😉

      Besides, as I’ve mentioned before in defense of the 4-team playoff on the football boards, BB season doesn’t really begin until March, unless… our team sucks… and this season’s Gator BB edition is just painful to watch. Still, Gator Nation should keep its powder dry and wait to see what CMW does with all the new talent and returning injured bigs next season.

      I would politely suggest that CMW ask CDM to allow all his BB players into the Savage S&C program this spring and then make them spend their whole summer shooting free throws if they want to sniff the court come next October. I’ll bet that combination will get them to the big dance next season.

      Go Gators!!!

      • StLG, Love your suggestions about off season strength and conditioning w/ Savage along with the free throw summer. I have not posted too often about the B Ball program, as this team is what it is, warts and all. However, I have advocated from the get go that while Coach White needs to be accountable for the results this year (and every year), he should without question be given a full 5 years at least to develop this program to his vision. And Cattrick, keep using your 20 years as a coach to help us keep perspective on all our programs. Now if we could just get the women’s basketball program on the same footing as softball, wouldn’t that be sweet!

      • I think Preston Greene, the basketball S&C coordinator has been around since the latter part of the BD era, so I think he does a good job, but a little Savage Treatment couldn’t hurt! I love the FT shooting idea, because it’s downright disheartening when the opponents best defense is to foul you hard enough that you can’t make the shot, and you know the FT’s are gonna be bricks.

        I agree with you, Dan, about giving CMW at least another season. Who would want to come here knowing one bad season will get you fired after two straight tournament appearances with one being an Elite Eight run? This year’s front court has been decimated by injuries. If Stokes and Bassett don’t develop, and Payne doesn’t pan out, then it may be time to pull the plug, but not before then.

  11. We’re a team full of 1s-2s-3s and nothing else. We’re playing 3 against 5. Only thing keeping White employed is his current recruiting class.

    Look at his record. 3 years.
    2015-16. Record 21-15. 9-9 SEC.
    2016-17. Record 22-9. 14-4 SEC.
    2017-18. Record 21-13. 11-7 SEC.
    2018-19. Record 12-11. 4-6 SEC.

    He’s only signed 1 player over 6’5″ in the last 2 years. If he doesn’t learn how to recruit big men, he’s finished.

    • There definitely is a scarcity of talented, big athletes and a science to developing them at the college level. Evidently, when a program is ineffective at developing their bigs, the word gets out amongst recruits and landing them becomes nearly impossible, even when early playing time is almost guaranteed. Just look at how OL recruits avoided Muschamp like the plague and now are avoiding Taggart the same way at FSU.

      IMHO, that science is foundationally related to the S&C program and CMW should be looking there first for changes that will yield better results and attract bigs to UF again. All those injured BB bigs, just as with our FB program under the Chump and McElwhiner, have their roots in poor S&C.

  12. Tennessee used a couple of 3 star big men to get to #1
    Coach White needs to totally focus on the bigs in recruiting. The Freshmen and the incoming class are going to make any incoming big look really good. When does the NCAA transfer portal open for BB?