Tennessee struggled to find offense late at No. 24 Florida and lost 83-70 on Saturday night.
The Volunteers (8-7, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) made just three field goals in the final five minutes as a back-and-forth contest turned into anything but down the stretch.
Admiral Schofield came up just short on an and-one opportunity but went to the free-throw line and drained 1 of 2 field goals to knot it al 56-all with 8:57 to play. It was mostly Gators from then on.
Tennessee freshman point guard Jordan Bone made a running layup in traffic and Detrick Mostella knocked down a 3-pointer before Grant Williams dunked with 2:18 to play to bring the visitors to within 74-68. Those were the lone points from the floor in the final 4:57.
It was the fifth straight victory for Florida (12-3, 3-0).
Offense: The first half wasn’t just great basketball as the SEC rivals combined for 19 turnovers in 20 minutes. The Orange & White totaled 19 turnovers with Mostella having four. Poor entry passes into the post were an issue.
Florida senior guard Kasey Hill got in Jordan Bone’s chest early and hounded the freshman from Nashville, rather than falling back on defense.
Kwe Parker, like Bone, must become more aware that Southeastern Conference guards are going to apply ample pressure until they show they can handle it.
Parker exited with 1:53 to go in the first half, favoring his left ankle.
Schofield had 18 points when he fouled out with 3:49 to play. He was aggressive and accurate, making 6 of 9 from the field and got to the charity stripe eight times, draining six. The sophomore’s 10 rebounds were more than any two teammates combined.
Jordan Bowden banged home a pair of 3-pointers at the onset of the second half and finished with 15 points, including 3-of-5 from downtown.
Defense: As young as Tennessee is on the perimeter, Florida looked just as discombobulated at times, struggling to find a flow and rhythm with sloppy play.
A man-to-man defense caused the hosts to miss 13 of 16 after a torrid 6-of-7 start.
The Vols got off to a great start turning turnovers into 12 points but added just three more from then on.
Rim protection and defensive rebounding are going to be issues for the rest of this season if they don’t body up longer foes, block out and snatch loose balls. It’s a tall task — pardon the pun — but enough can be done to offset Tennessee’s absence of trees in the front-court.
Several players must tone down the aggression attacking players squared up for 3-point shots and close out. Too often Tennessee is soaring past shooters and falling for pump-fakes, surrendering open looks.
Neither Schofield nor Williams played even 25 minutes but both fouled out. Given the deficiencies in the post and with no John Fulkerson, that cannot happen.
The Vols had no answer for KeVaughn Allen, who led all scorers with 23 points. Justin Leon had 19 and Canyon Barry 15.