Road Woes Continue

Despite racing out to an early double-digit lead, the No. 22 ranked Florida Gators fell short of upsetting No. 7 ranked Tennessee in Knoxville. The Gators drop their fifth straight at Thompson-Boling Arena after suffering a 104-82 loss on Tuesday night.

The final score didn't reflect the way the Gators (18-5, 5-3 SEC) played, however. Tennessee (20-2, 7-1 SEC) used a 16-3 run to close out the game, handing the Gators their second consecutive loss. Florida has also lost three of their last four SEC games on the road.

Florida began the game running and gunning taking an early 16-3 lead. After struggling from the field over the weekend in Arkansas, the Gators made their first six shots and hit nine of their first ten from the field. The Vols stormed back by the midpoint of the first half, going on a 22-10 run, cutting the Gators' 13-point lead to just one point.

With 6:49 remaining in the first half, a dunk by Vols' guard J.P. Prince gave Tennessee a 34-32 lead, but Dan Werner knocked down a 3-pointer to give the edge back to the Gators. After Wayne Chism hit a layup, the Gators scored six straight points and carried a four-point lead into the locker room, 48-44.

After baskets from Werner and Alex Tyus to start the second half, Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl called a timeout. It proved to be the right move because the Vols responded with a 12-0 run, erasing Florida's six-point lead. The top team in the SEC East never looked back as they continued to make shot after shot while the Gators could never sustain any offense in the second half.

After making four of their first eight 3-point field goals, the Gators finished the game missing eight of their next nine shots from behind the arc. Nick Calathes knocked down 2-of-5 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out eight assists. Marreese Speights led the Gators with 23 points, falling one short of his career high set against High Point. Speights also grabbed eight rebounds and made 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

The Gators were never able to tame the hot shooting from Tennessee's Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith and Tyler Smith. All three finished with more than 20 points led by Lofton's 26 points. The Vols' leading scorer knocked down 6-of-11 from behind the arc and seemed to always make the big shot when the Gators looked to pull away.

The Gators held Tennessee to less than 50 percent shooting from the field but allowed the most points since 2002. Ironically, the last time Florida allowed an opponent to score 100 or more points in a game was a 104-100 overtime win in Knoxville. It was also the last time the Gators beat the Vols on their home court.

The Gators return to the O'Dome on Saturday afternoon when they face Georgia at 3:00 p.m.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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