Brewer is big worry

Corey Brewer's ankle wasn't the only thing that turned with 9:34 left in the first half of Florida's Jan. 21 game at Tennessee. The game turned, as well.

Brewer, a 6-8, 185-pound sophomore forward from Portland, Tenn., scored the Gators' first eight points and 10 of their first 14 in the earlier meeting at Knoxville. With Florida leading 23-17, however, he turned his ankle after pulling down a rebound.

While Brewer was getting his ankle taped, Chris Lofton drained two 3-pointers over the next three minutes that helped Tennessee grab a 31-30 lead. Brewer returned to play much of the second half but was visibly limping. Even so, he finished with a team-high 20 points in just 26 minutes. Lofton scored 29, however, as Tennessee won 80-76.

You have to wonder: If Corey Brewer hadn't hurt his ankle, would the Vols have prevailed? That's hard to say. Clearly motivated by facing his home-state university, Brewer appeared on his way to a huge night offensively. And his height might have helped Florida contain Lofton a little better. Brewer guarded Lofton some in the opening minutes.

"He was assigned to him (Lofton) a few times prior to his injury," UT coach Bruce Pearl notes. "It wouldn't surprise me to see Brewer on him more now that he's healthy."

Brewer gets another shot at Lofton and the Vols Wednesday night in Gainesville. The SEC East title and national rankings will be at stake when the 10th-ranked Vols (19-4 overall, 10-2 SEC) and 11th-ranked Gators (22-4, 8-4) tip it up at 8 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. JP Sports will provide television coverage.

Florida is a balanced team that poses a lot of problems. The Gators have two of the SEC's better big men in 6-11 Joakim Noah and 6-8, 235-pound Al Horford. They boast a superior point guard in Taurean Green and the SEC's leading 3-point shooter in Lee Humphrey. Brewer may present the biggest match-up problem for the Vols, however, because he is too big for Tennessee's guards and too quick for Tennessee's forwards.

Brewer is Florida's third-leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, yet he is hitting a meager 28.6 percent (22 of 77) from 3-point range. Perhaps Tennessee's best bet to contain him is to give him the outside shot and try to keep him out of that mid-range area – 10 to 15 feet from the basket – where he seems most deadly.

"You've still got to play the percentages," Pearl says. "You've got to respect him more from 2 than 3."


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