Gators try to remain undefeated in SEC

Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 1:49 a.m.

After coming off a tough win against Vanderbilt, The Gators (13-3) will look to go 4-0 in the SEC when they take on Tennessee (9-7) Wednesday night at the O'Connell Center.

Although Florida lost to Tennessee in their last match up, the Gators have won six of the last eight meetings against the Volunteers and have won four straight in Gainesville, including a 95-57 rout last season.

The loss of Matt Walsh to a syndesmotic ankle sprain has taken some strength from Florida' s game, but replacement Lee Humphrey has made a big impact, scoring 43 points in the last four games.

Coach Billy Donovan is also looking for guard Lee Humphrey to step up in Walsh's absence.

"Lee is not the most athletically gifted guy," Donovan said during a media luncheon on Monday. "He is a phenomenal three-point shooter and he understands his roll. He does what he can do in games to be effective and productive for us. He has done a nice job in the absence of Matt Walsh stepping in and giving us the threat to score."

Anthony Roberson is coming off of back to back 30-point games and averaging 26.3 points a game in the early conference schedule.

His 17.9 points a game this season is highest season average for a Gator since Dan Cross averaged 18.0 in 1994-95.

Corey Brewer has stepped it up, averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals against SEC competition, David Lee is averaging a double-double in SEC play with 12.0 points per game and 10.7 rebounds.

The duo of Lee and Al Horford are combining for 18.7 rebounds per game in league play and out-rebounded Vanderbilt 28-25 on Saturday.

Tennessee leads the all time series between the two schools 60 46, and they enter Wednesday's game with a 9 7 record (2 2 SEC) after defeating then No. 11 ranked Mississippi State, 64 63, and then falling, 66 63, at South Carolina last week.

Tennessee's Coach Buzz Peterson has directed the team to the postseason each of the past two seasons and has reached the postseason in six of the last seven seasons.

Leading the Vols on the court is the trio of upperclassmen, guards Scooter McFadgon and C.J. Watson and forward Brandon Crump.

Last year, McFadgon was the fourth leading scorer in the SEC (17.6 ppg) and leads the team again at 15.8 points per game this season.

Last year, Watson was second in the SEC in assists (5.0) and his 5.3 assists per game this season leads the team once again.

Crump leads the team in field-goal percentage, hitting 60.5 percent from the floor in addition to a team high 20 blocked shots. UT also boasts five players who are hitting better than 50 percent from the floor.

In the teams' last meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee rallied in the final minutes to get past No. 20 Florida 65 63 at the Thompson Boling Arena.

Florida's duo of Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh combined for 34 points but the Gators were unable to contain Tennessee guard Scooter McFadgon, who scored 24 points in 38 minutes of play.

Anthony Roberson had a chance to tie the game with 13.8 seconds remaining in the game but was only able to convert 2 of 3 free throws. Tennessee and Florida split the season series 1 1.

Without Walsh, the Gators are looking to get greater contributions from their bench. The Gator bench has averaged 24.3 points per game and have outscored opponent's bench in all but one game.

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