With SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and a member of the NCAA selection committee in the building, the Gators did something they have not done in the previous two seasons; win a meaningful late season game. Florida's 75-62 victory over Tennessee gives the Gators a huge push towards the tournament with three games remaining.
The Gators (20-8, 9-4 SEC) did everything needed to win; outrebound, score in the paint and play very good defense. Tennessee (20-7, 8-5) fought off an early Gator surge with their own, but UF tied it at the half. UT had a 44-43 lead with 14:33 left in the second half when Billy Donovan called a timeout. Following that, the Gators went on a 21-4 run over the next ten minutes to bury the Vols.
Once again, Chandler Parsons would not be denied, as he scored 19 points on 8-12 shooting with eight rebounds. Erving Walker also had 19, with three backbreaking 3-pointers. Vernon Macklin had his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kenny Boynton had 12 points but six turnovers. Alex Tyus was the only Gator starter in single digits with eight points and eight rebounds. Erik Murphy, the Poor Man's David Lee, had four points and two rebounds in only nine minutes.
Tuesday might have been Florida's best defensive performance as they attacked the hobbled Wayne Chism (seven points) and forced Stephen Pearl (two points) to get significant minutes. Scotty Hopson was on fire from the arc, scoring 20 points and 4-8 3-point shooting. But only Cameron Tatum (13 points) and Bobby Maze (11 points) followed with double figures.
Florida will now have to avoid a let down when they go to Georgia (4-8, 12-13) on Saturday.