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HomeSports#6 Tennessee Vols Basketball heads south to take on Florida

#6 Tennessee Vols Basketball heads south to take on Florida

#6/#6 Tennessee (10-1 | 4-1 SEC) at Florida (6-4 | 3-3 SEC)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 | 6:00pm CT
Gainesville, FL | Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center | TV: ESPN

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsGainesville, FL – The sixth-ranked Tennessee basketball team returns to action for a Tuesday night showdown with conference rival, Florida. Tipoff from the O’Connell Center is slated for 6:00pm CT on ESPN.

Fans can catch Tuesday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN App, or online at espn.com/watch. Karl Ravech and Dick Vitale will have the call.

Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.

Tennessee Men's Basketball hits the road Tuesday to play Florida Tuesday night. (UT Athletics)
Tennessee Men’s Basketball hits the road Tuesday to play Florida Tuesday night. (UT Athletics)

Last time out, Tennessee took down an in-state foe, Vanderbilt, 81-61. The victory was the UT Vols’ seventh consecutive win over the Commodores and the fourth in a row inside Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Vols were led on Saturday by freshman Keon Johnson who scored a season-high 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a sparkling 7-of-8 mark from the free-throw line.

A victory on Tuesday would give the Vols their fifth straight win over Florida, which would be its longest win streak in the series since 2010.

Series Between Tennessee and Florida

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Florida, 77-57, dating to 1927.

The Gators hold a 35-26 edge when the series is contested in Gainesville.

The Volunteers have won four straight over Florida. Over those four games, neither team has reached 80 points.

Tennessee sophomore Drew Pember and Florida sophomore Ques Glover were teammates at Knoxville’s Bearden High School and led the Bulldogs to the 2019 Class AAA state championship.

Florida’s Samson Ruzhentsev is a 2020 graduate of Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga.

A Win Would

Extend Tennessee’s active win streak over the Gators to five games—its longest win streak in the series since 2010.

Push Rick Barnes past Phog Allen and Don Haskins into 19th place on the all-time Division I wins list (720).

Layup Lines

John Fulkerson and Josiah-Jordan James starred for the Vols in last season’s win over Florida. See “last meeting with Florida” note.

Tennessee is No. 4 in the latest NCAA NET ratings, with wins over three teams in the top 35.

Tennessee’s wins this season have come by an average of 20.0 points, giving UT the nation’s fifth-best scoring margin.

The Vols are giving up league-best 62.6 points per game in SEC play.



Tennessee has forced 10 of 11 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions.

In their two road games this season, the Vols are shooting .540 as a team with a +5.5 turnover margin.

Santiago Vescovi is shooting .650 (13-20) from the field and .643 (9-14) from 3-point range in UT’s two road wins while averaging a team-best 19.0 points.

Vols senior John Fulkerson has been named to the Wooden Award’s Midseason Top-25 List.

Defense Wins

Tennessee ranks second in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 57.2 points per game.

According to KenPom, the Vols rank second in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 87.2 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.

The Vols are forcing 17.3 turnovers per game while converting those turnovers into 19.3 points per game. Tennessee’s turnover margin stands at +7.4 (third nationally).

Tennessee has blocked 17.6 percent of its opponents’ two-point field goals this season—the nation’s No. 1 block percentage.

Tennessee has yet to allow an opposing player to score 20 points this season.

Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons has 16 blocks through UT’s first five SEC games.

Pons has 96 blocks in his last 42 games.


About the Florida Gators

After an up-and-down 2019-20 campaign that saw Florida in and out of the rankings, sixth-year head coach Mike White looks to return Florida to the top of the SEC and the NCAA Tournament.

Following an extended pause of team activities after the incident with forward Keyontae Johnson, the Gators sit at 6-4 and 3-3 in the SEC to begin 2020-21. Their most recent result was a tough road loss at Mississippi State, 72-69, Saturday afternoon.

Without Johnson, the Gators have needed to rely on the production of their other starters to make up for the absence of the SEC’s Preseason Player of the Year. That production has come from sophomore guard Tre Mann and junior forward Colin Castleton.

Mann has started every game and leads the Gators in scoring (14.0 ppg), assists (4.2 apg), and steals (1.7 spg). He also is second on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game. Among SEC players, he ranks 14th in points, fifth in assists, and ninth in steals, while acting as Florida’s most consistent and steady player in the backcourt.

In the frontcourt, Castleton has been solid on the boards, leading the team with 5.7 rebounds per night, and has been ferocious on the defensive end with a team-leading 2.3 blocks per game. His 2.3 blocks per game also rank second in the SEC. On the score sheet, Castleton has provided steady production, ranking second on the Gators with 12.6 points per game and pouring in a team-high 16.7 points during league play, which ranks eighth in the conference.

The University of Florida is widely recognized for its creation of the popular sports drink, Gatorade, developed ahead of the 1965 football season by Florida professor Robert Cade.

Tennessee’s Last Game Against Florida

A game-high 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting from John Fulkerson led the way as Tennessee defeated Florida for the fourth consecutive time on Feb. 29, 2020. The win also marked the Vols’ 50th regular-season SEC victory under fifth-year head coach Rick Barnes.

Vols freshman Josiah-Jordan James stuffed the stat sheet, recording 12 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 40 minutes.

The Vols began the contest red hot from the floor, connecting on eight of 14 field goals and forcing the Gators into six turnovers by the 8:00 media timeout.

James connected on his first two 3-point attempts and led the Vols with eight points through the game’s opening 10 minutes.

At the six-minute mark of the first half, UT senior Jordan Bowden nailed a 3-point shot, his first of 10 points on the afternoon. Then, a block by James on the defensive end, followed by a made triple by Santiago Vescovi extended the Tennessee lead to 26-14 and forced a Florida timeout.

The Tennessee Vols’ defense was suffocating in the opening stanza, holding the Gators to zero made field goals in the final 9:48 of the first half. The Florida field-goal drought extended to 10:42 to start the second half.

Tennessee held a 32-17 advantage at halftime, shooting at a 48 percent clip (14-29) in the opening 20 minutes, as James led all scorers with 10 points at the break.
A 14-2 run by the Gators narrowed their deficit to just seven points with under eight minutes to go.

Leading 55-54 with under 2:30 left in the contest, the UT Vols in-bounded the ball with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, before Fulkerson buried his first career 3-point field goal. The momentum from that sequence carried Tennessee to victory.

To seal the win, Fulkerson grabbed an offensive rebound and authoritatively made another dunk, further energizing a Thompson-Boling Arena packed with 19,743 fans.

Grad transfer forward Kerry Blackshear and sophomore guard Noah Locke led the way offensively for the Gators, scoring 20 and 15 points, respectively.


Mike White Faced Vols As An Ole Miss Rebel

During his playing career at Ole Miss from 1995-99, current Florida head coach Mike White went 1-3 against Tennessee.

White played in all four games, averaging 5.0 points and 1.5 rebounds while shooting .357 from the field and .625 from 3-point range (5-8).

The Rebels’ lone win over the Vols during that span came during White’s sophomore season (1996-97), and his most productive scoring game vs. UT came when he was a freshman (eight points).

Memorable Vol Performances Against Gators

The legendary Bernard King recorded the third-best scoring performance in school history with a 43-point, 20-rebound effort as the Vols topped the Gators 93-84 on January 17th, 1976, in Stokely Athletics Center.

During the 1983-84 season, Willie Burton averaged 16.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and shot .500 (17-of-34) from the floor against the Gators. UT was 3-0 vs. Florida that season.

Dane Bradshaw’s breakaway layup with 20.1 seconds to play proved to be the winning basket as the Vols upset second-ranked Florida 80-76 in Knoxville on January 21st, 2006.

The Vols upset fifth-ranked Florida, 86-76, on Senior Day in Knoxville behind Chris Lofton’s 21 points on February 27th, 2007. ESPN College GameDay broadcast live from Rocky Top, Peyton Manning addressed the Vols in the locker room before the game, and Pat Summitt donned cheerleader garb and led the sold-out crowd in a rendition of Rocky Top during a media timeout.

20 Elusive For Opposing Scorers

Through 2,200 minutes of basketball this season, no Tennessee opponent has managed to score 20 points.

Only five opposing scorers have scored more than 15 points. The high is 19, attained by both J.D. Notae (Arkansas) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt).

Tennessee’s opponents’ top scorer this season averages 14.5 ppg.

Up Next For Tennessee Men’s Basketball

The Tennessee Vols basketball team will return home to take on Missouri on Saturday night. The opening tip is scheduled for 7:30pm CT on SEC Network.


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