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Tennessee Hangs On For Fourth Straight Win Over Gators

Tennessee hosted the Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon, with the Vols looking to get back on the winning side of things. The Gators had lost the last three games of the series to the Vols.


Tennessee, coming off a disappointing performance at Arkansas on Wednesday night, looked to put together 40 minutes of consistent basketball, while also holding out hope for late-season magic. Florida, coming off a huge win over LSU on Wednesday, continued to fight for a potential NCAA berth and SEC Tournament seeding.


The Vols held a 6-5 lead at the U16 break. Tennessee was 3-of-6 from the field at this point, with John Fulkerson having four points.


Josiah-Jordan James had eight points for the Vols at the 10:40 mark of the first half, making his presence felt early on. This was definitely a welcomed sign for Tennessee coaches and fans.



The Vols’ defense forced six turnovers through 12 minutes of the first half, while also not giving the Gators very easy attempts. This kind of defense paid off, as Tennessee had a 18-14 lead at the U8 break.


Tennessee was passing themselves out of trouble at times, especially on a kick-out to Jordan Bowden for three at the 6:05 mark. Just to add some spice. Santiago Vescovi backed it up with a huge three-ball himself, causing the TBA crowd to erupt. Tennessee led 26-14 at this point.


As the first half started to dwindle down, the Vols led 26-17 at the U4 break. They continued to take care of the basketball, not forcing up too many bad shots, though a few of them could’ve fooled you. Tennessee was shooting 52 percent at the 3:56 mark, giving them plenty of opportunities to expand the lead.


Tennessee came out of the break getting consecutive baskets from Fulkerson, Yves Pons and Bowden. The Vols expanded the lead to 32-17 at the 1:43 mark. Finally, Tennessee was spreading the ball around enough to find the open look.



Tennessee led Florida 32-17 at halftime. Triple-J had 10 points and four rebounds and the Vols forced 11 turnovers by the Gators. The Vols shot 50 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range, giving Tennessee the commanding lead.


As Tennessee reached a 34-17 lead In the second half, this hasn’t been the best territory for the team this season. It was time to see if they could finish it off.


After a few big shots from Bowden and Fulkerson, Tennessee still led 40-29, trying to hold off a Gators comeback. After some very tough defending, causing a few turnovers, Tennessee had the lead back up to 48-29 at the 12:08 mark.


The Vols were causing chaos on both ends of the court.



All of the sudden, after a few quick baskets and a 6-0 run, Florida was back within 13 points. Tennessee needed to get a quick fix before things started to get even closer, as they called timeout with 10:37 remaining.


Tennessee had once had a 19-point lead, but it was cut to 50-43 at the 7:41 mark of the second half, as we reached the U8 break. This game was starting to get dicey. Florida had gone on a 14-2 run over 3:52. Sending very nervous vibes throughout TBA.


The Vols’ lead had shrunk to 54-50 with 4:00 remaining, thanks in part to big shots from Kerry Blackshear and Tre Mann for the Gators. But, the way the second half had played out, Tennessee continued trying  to play the game through Fulkerson.


The Gators bench was even getting loud with a “defense” chant, Tennessee needed some kind of splash. Enter Fulkerson. who knocked down his first career three-point shot, to the roar of TBA. The Vols led 58-56.


The Vols needed a stop, which is exactly what they got. The next play brought TBA to the loudest I have heard it all season. Fulkerson took a missed shot off the backboard and slammed it home, with the crowd chanting “Fulky! Fulky!”

With 24.7 seconds remaining, Tennessee led 60-58, looking to somehow finish off this game at the free throw line. They finally put the game away with 10.3 seconds left.


The Vols let the Gators comeback from 19 points down to get it within two points, but they never gave them the lead.



This was a big win for Tennessee in many different ways, but mostly, they just needed to feel good again. After that wild second half, I would say they can finally breathe, at least for a day.


Lots of work left for Tennessee, but some would see it as opportunity.

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