Vols Rebound Against Gators

Tennessee plotted a twist on the close-but-no-cigar climax and, as a result, may have started a new chapter in a season that was going south in a hurry, following four straight defeats.

Dialing the intensity meter to maximum, hitting the boards with abandon and scrapping for every loose ball like a team possessed, the Vols ended their four-game losing streak and avenged the season's most decisive setback by edging the No. 22 ranked Florida Gators 65-63 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

SEC leading scorer Scooter McFadgon accounted for eight of Tennessee's last 10 points, scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down nine rebounds and connected on a perfect 10-for-10 free throws to pace Tennessee (11-6, 3-4) to the triumph. He also dished out three assists and recorded a couple of steals that were instrumental in the 40-point turnaround from the Vols 95-57 shelling at Gainesville three weeks ago.

In that embarrassing blowout, the Gators had their way on the boards which ignited their transition offense and created a frenetic pace the Vols weren't prepared to play. This time it was Tennessee that controlled the glass and out rebounded Florida 43 to 24, including an 18 to 7 advantage on the offensive end. In the earlier meeting at Gainesville the Gators held a 29-24 rebounding lead.

Tennessee also pounded the ball inside and drew enough fouls to gain a 24-to-17 advantage in made free throws, as the Vols hit 24-of-30 for 80 percent compared to Florida's 17-of-23. This proved essential to the victory as UT shot only 37 percent from the field (19-of-51) and only 3-of-14 from three-point range. Florida shot 19-of-48 from the field (38 percent) compared to 62 percent in the first contest between these squads. Florida kept this contest close by connecting on 8-of-19 of their 3-point shots.

Florida was led in scoring Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson with 17 each but David Lee who scored 17 for the Gators in the first game against UT was held to five points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Brandon Crump recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman power forward Major Wingate started and scored Tennessee's first six points en route to a solid eight-point effort. Rarely used Justin Albrecht entered the game in the final three minutes in place of John Winchester, who fouled out, and made a key assist, drew a charge and knocked down a couple of free throws that gave Tennessee a lead, 62-61, that the Vols they never surrendered.

In a game that had six lead changes, Tennessee enjoyed its biggest advantage of 10 points before Florida closed with a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to 31-30 at intermission. The Gators got a lift going into the locker room when Walsh hit a 35-foot shot at the buzzer.

The Vols came out strong in the second half and built the lead back to seven before Florida went on another run finally pushing ahead 50-48 on a three-point goal. The Gators biggest lead in the second half was four points, 56-52, on a drive by Roberson at the 5:31 mark.

The best illustration of Tennessee's dramatic improvement against the Gators is found in the fact that the Vols were outscored by 19 points in each half at Gainesville but outscored Florida by one point in each half at Knoxville.

Tennessee goes back on the road, where life hasn't been kind, on Wednesday with a SEC contest at Baton Rogue against LSU.


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