Seniors Carry Gators in Overtime Win

Tuesday night was about erasing past frustrations for the Gators. No player on the Florida team had experienced a win in Knoxville during his career, including a one-point loss to Tennessee last year. The seniors didn't waste their final opportunity. The three seniors combined for 45 points to lead the Gators to an 81-75 win in front of 19,846 in attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I'm really proud of our guys," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show. We battled and fought. It's a great win, and really a good team win for our basketball team."

The Gators outscored Tennessee 13-7 in overtime to securing the victory, including a 6-0 run to start the period. Kenny Boynton scored eight of his 17 points in overtime, including a three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining that pushed the Florida advantage to seven points and served as the final dagger.

While Boynton dominated overtime, it was the senior class that took over regulation.

Alex Tyus bounced back from a 1-for-6 performance from the field against Ole Miss on Saturday while going for a team-high 18 points with seven rebounds and three blocks, including a crucial block of Tennessee center Brian Williams that kept the game tied with five seconds remaining in regulation.

The block came following Tyus missing the front end of a one-and-one situation where the Gators could have taken the lead with 42 seconds left in overtime.

"He stayed calm and kept his cool," Donovan said. "He kept his focus on the game."

Tyus had one steal, but it served as the momentum switch that might have taken Tennessee out of the game early in overtime before the Volunteers got on the board. He watched Tennessee run the same play all night where a guard behind the three point line near the Volunteers' bench threw the ball to a low post player behind the free throw line.

Tyus watched it out of Melvin Goins' hands and tipped it into the backcourt where he dunked to give Florida a 74-68 lead with 2:19 left in overtime.

"They love to run that flex," Tyus said. "I was kind of waiting and hoping I could get one as the game went on. I got one, got lucky and shot that gap."

After Boynton's three-pointer gave Florida a comfortable lead, the team went 4-for-6 from the free throw line to clinch the game.

Chandler Parsons continued his hot shooting. He scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds. Parsons went 5-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 from behind the three-point line. He had only two assists, but when the Gators needed a big basket, Parsons or Erving Walker would create off the dribble to get a basket.

When Vernon Macklin was in foul trouble in overtime, Patric Young started the period and gave the Gators energy. He pulled down a career high seven rebounds in 23 minutes, while also getting multiple deflections to help the defense.

"Patric gave a huge lift in overtime with Vernon having foul trouble," Donovan said.

All five starters scored in double digits. The Gators added 14 assists and 11 turnovers.

"Even though we had some bad plays and things go against us, we found a way to make some plays," Donovan said. "I'm proud and happy for them to come in here and get a win against a team that felt like their back was the wall. Anytime you get a win on the road in this league, it's tough."

The first half went back-and-forth because each team went on multiple runs. Tennessee got off to an early lead, but Florida went on a 10-1 run to take a 19-15 lead with 10:14 left in the first half.

Then, it was the Volunteers' turn. Tennessee went on a 7-0 run to take a 22-19 team. The Gators then closed the half on an 11-2 run over the final five minutes of the first half. In the last five minutes, Florida held the Volunteers to 1-for-4 from the field and forced five turnovers.

Florida started the game 0-for-4 from behind the three-point line, but the team caught fire in the second half. The Gators finished 8-for-16 for three and shot 52.5% from the field.

Florida returns home Saturday when they host South Carolina. Tip off is set for 1:30 p.m.


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