The Tennessee Volunteers and Bruce Pearl's sweat glands continue their dominance of the Florida Gators. With a chance to win on Alex Tyus' open bank shot, the Gators (15-6, 4-3 SEC) lost 61-60 to the Vols (16-4, 4-2). Pearl is now 8-1 against Donovan. (Just writing that sentence made me gag.)
UF was three points down with 1:39 remaining when Chandler Parsons was fouled on a three-point attempt, but missed 2 of 3 free throws. UF then forced a turnover and Parsons tied it 57-57 on the other end. After two made Wayne Chism free throws, Parsons hit a three, giving UF a 60-59 lead. Scotty Hopson then sunk a fall away jumper with 17 seconds left, giving UF a chance to win.
Florida brought the ball up the floor and was looking to either free up Erving Walker or Chandler Parsons. But as Tennessee rotated and kept the ball outside of the arc, Tyus got free and rolled to the hoop. His left wing shot from about 10 feet appeared to go off the top of the box, rattling around on the rim before Hopson pulled in the rebound and dribbled out the clock.
Tyus led all scorers with 18 points (7-11 shooting) and added 7 rebounds. Parsons, aside from the two late missed free throws, continues to be Florida's best player. He had 14 points (5-6 shooting) and 8 rebounds. Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker missed too many shots and had too many turnovers, while Vernon Macklin had 7 points and 5 boards in 31 minutes.
UF had a very good first half, but could not slow the Vols in the second period. Chism had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. J.P. Prince had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Rebounding was UT's way of staying in the game when Florida looked like the better team. The Vols ended with a 37-31 rebounding edge, including a 15-6 offensive rebounding edge. This was in part to UT's guards who have a size advantage and could throw off Boynton and Walker. Florida's bench was no help as Ray Shipman and Erik Murphy are not ready for primetime, while Dan Werner has checked out, now he is no longer starting.
Florida's loss is not a killer, but it would have drastically changed the make up of the SEC and UF's NCAA chances. 10-6 in the SEC, plus defeating Xavier and a SEC Tournament win should get the Gators into the tournament. But with road games at Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and home dates with UT and Vandy, the margin of error is getting thin. Florida's next game is Thursday at Alabama.