Tennessee (16-7 | 9-7 SEC) vs. Florida (13-7 | 9-6 SEC)
Saturday, March 7th, 2021 | 11:01am CT
Knoxville, TN | Thompson-Boling Arena | TV: ESPNU
Knoxville, TN – The Tennessee basketball team returns from a week-long hiatus to take on Florida at home in its regular-season final on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is slated for 11:00am CT on ESPNU.
Fans can see Sunday’s game on ESPNU and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN on the ESPN App. WatchESPN can be accessed online at espn.com/watch. Tom Hart and Jimmy Dykes 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.
A win on Sunday would earn Tennessee a double-bye in next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Up next, Tennessee heads to Nashville for the 2021 SEC Tournament. The date of the UT Vols first postseason contest will be determined following the result of Sunday’s game.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with Florida, 77-58, dating to 1927.
The Vols hold a 48-16 edge when the series is contested in Knoxville.
The Volunteers have won four of their last five games against Florida. Over those five games, neither team has reached 80 points.
New Tennessee AD Danny White is the younger brother of Florida head coach Mike White.
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. Tennessee redshirt sophomore Uroš Plavši? also is a Hamilton Heights graduate (2018).
Pons is one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year.
Victor Bailey Jr. has scored 77 points over the last four games (19.3 ppg) and has made 19 total 3-pointers during that span.
Springer has scored 20 or more points in five of the last seven games.
Tennessee will finish the regular season with only 17 SEC games.
According to KenPom, the Vols rank sixth in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 88.2 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.
Tennessee ranks 24th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 63.1 points per game.
Only once this season has a Tennessee opponent scored 80 or more points. That was Georgia, in a game the Vols won, 89-81, on February 10th.
The Vols are forcing 15.7 turnovers per game and converting those turnovers into 17.5 points per game.
Tennessee has forced 16 of 23 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions. The Vols are forcing opponents to turn it over 22.8 percent of the time this season.
In SEC play, Tennessee has led the league in turnover margin all season (currently +2.6 per game).
About the Florida Gators
As the 2021 SEC Tournament approaches, Florida is in a very similar position to UT entering Sunday’s contest. Florida is currently 13-7 overall and 9-6 in league play, and much like Tennessee, the Gators are 3-3 in their last six games.
Like he was entering the matchup between the programs back in January, sophomore guard Tre Mann has been the do-it-all performer for the Gators. He currently leads UF in scoring (15.8 ppg), rebounding (5.7 rpg) and assists (3.4 apg) and ranks second in steals with 1.5 per game. In SEC play, he is among the league leaders in all four categories as well, ranking 11th in scoring, 18th in rebounding, seventh in assists and 10th steals.
Like Mann, junior forward Colin Castleton has been consistent in all areas of the floor for the Gators. He currently ranks second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.7 rpg) and leads the team in blocks, with 2.2 per game. In SEC play, Castleton has been even more efficient, ranking 16th in the SEC in points with 14.0 per contest while scoring in double digits in all but two SEC games and dropping 20-plus points four times.
A more recent addition to the starting lineup, junior guard Tyree Appleby has emerged as a regular contributor entering Sunday’s game as the Gators’ third-leading scorer (10.9 ppg), He shares the team lead in assists with 3.4 helpers per game and holds the team lead in steals with 1.7 per game. Appleby also ranks seventh in the SEC in both steals and assists through 20 games.
The University of Florida is a senior member of the State University System of Florida and traces its origins to 1853. The institution has operated continuously on its Gainesville campus since September of 1906.
Tennessee’s Last Meeting With Florida
Offensive struggles and a difficult night on the boards were too much for the sixth-ranked Tennessee basketball team to overcome as the Volunteers fell to Florida, 75-49, on January 19th, 2021, at Exactech Arena.
Florida was impressive from the field, knocking down 31 of its 62 shot attempts. The Gators led in scoring by Noah Locke, who had 14.
Sophomore Santiago Vescovi added with seven points, three rebounds, and a career-high-tying three steals.
Florida held control for large portions of the opening half, out-rebounding the Vols 26-16 to take a 38-27 lead into halftime.
Florida maintained control throughout the second half, stretching its lead to as many as 28 points and converting on more than 54 percent of its shot attempts in the second frame.
The key stretch was an 11-0 run over three minutes of play in the middle stages of the half that pushed the Gators’ lead from 11 to 22 and helped cement the night’s final scoreline.
Memorable Tennessee Vol Performances Against Florida 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 Tennessee 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.
White Family Connection Adds New Twist To Series
Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White is the younger brother of Florida head basketball coach Mike White.
As Tennessee was playing at Florida earlier this season on the night of January 19th, Danny White was in the midst of discussions with UT Chancellor Donde Plowman about the Tennessee AD job. Two days later, on January 21st, it was announced that White had been named Tennessee’s new AD.
Mike White Faced Vols As A Rebel
During his playing career at Ole Miss from 1995-99, current Florida coach Mike White went 1-3 against UT.
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).
Battle For A Bye
Sunday’s matchup could be a battle for the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s SEC Tournament (if LSU wins at Missouri Saturday).
A Tennessee win would give the Vols a .588 winning percentage in SEC play, which would top the Gators’ resulting mark of .563.
Florida could jump to third in the final standings if the Gators defeat UT and LSU loses at Missouri.
Second Time’s A Charm
Since 2018, Rick Barnes and his staff have guided the Volunteers to a 13-5 record in regular-season rematch games (SEC Tournament games not included).