The Florida Gators basketball team (9-5/1-1) fell to the Tennessee Volunteers (8-6/1-1) on Wednesday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee with a score of 83-69.
The Gators were led by freshman guard KeVaughn Allen who finished with 18 for his 5th straight double digit game.
Both teams came out shooting fast and often, tying it at 6 just over a minute and a half into the game. Devin Robinson, returning to the court after missing the second half against Georgia due to a chest contusion, came off the bench and hit a 3 to give the Gators a 17-16 lead with 13:47 left in the first half; it would be their only lead of the game because while Florida started 8-20, they finished 16-50.
Despite the Vols taking the lead back quickly, it seemed the deep ball would carry over from the win versus Georgia and continue to be kind to Florida as both teams were 4-9 from downtown at the under-12 timeout.
Then this Florida Gators basketball team got punted.
Vols guard Kevin Punter—who finished leading both teams with 26 points—hit back to back 3′s and set the tone for the rest of the first half and the rest of the game. He finished 3-3 from beyond the arc (all in the first half) and 9-16 total.
While the first half began as a shootout, the second half started much slower and there even seemed to be an opening for Florida to go on a run to make things interesting.
A small spark came when White delivered a message to his starters by benching all of them at once. Volunteers were up by 30 as he started to trickle them back in and it seemed they received the message when Egbunu fought through a host of defenders to score a layup. That bit of fire spread when Dorian Finney-Smith hit a long 3 and Brandone Francis-Ramirez grabbed a steal that eventually led to Kasey Hill visiting the free throw line and was followed by a deep shot from Leon who finished 3-4 from downtown.
Tennessee didn’t let this 9-0 run from Florida last for too long though when none other than Punter hit a jumper to push the lead back to 23 and keep the chance of a miracle comeback little to none.
Coming out of the under-8 media timeout Tennessee had a 22 point lead which the Gators cut into to make it a 14 point differential before it came to time to foul.
Dorian Finney-Smith finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
In the end, Tennessee’s effort and quick shooting proved too much for a Florida team that had depended on their defense and the Volunteers took the 83-69 win.
The Florida Gators basketball team will now return home to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to face LSU on Saturday the 9th at 1:30. The Tigers, behind freshman phenom Ben Simmons, beat the Kentucky Wildcats earlier in the week. You can catch the game on CBS and as always, join GatorCountry.com to follow along for full updates and information.