The 3 is key for UT

Tennessee sank eight more 3-point baskets (11) than Florida (3) Wednesday night in Gainesville, and those eight points proved to be the difference between a four-point loss and a four-point victory as the Vols prevailed 76-72.

That may have been the game's key statistic because Florida entered the game with the SEC's second-best 3-point shooting percentage (39.3) and its fourth-best 3-point shooting defense (33.4). Wednesday night, however, the Gators hit just 3 of 13 (23.1 percent), while Tennessee nailed 11 of 21 (52.4 percent).

So, why couldn't Florida find the range from outside?

"We did a pretty good job of pressing up a little bit on them and making their looks tough," UT coach Bruce Pearl said.

The Big Orange accomplished this by forcing a quick tempo that wore out the Gators. They got some good looks from outside as the game wore on but they were too tired to make the shots at that point. Conversely, Tennessee had enough energy left to take advantage of its open looks from outside.

"Tempo, that's what happened," Pearl said. "We make shots late because of our conditioning."

Making Tennessee's perimeter attack particularly effective Wednesday night was the fact the Gators couldn't focus exclusively on Chris Lofton. He drained four 3's but the Vols also got three treys each from JaJuan Smith and Dane Bradshaw.

"The fact we had three guys gunning from out there (was big)," Pearl said.

Point guard C.J. Watson made just one 3-pointer but it was a timely basket that extended Tennessee's lead to 67-63 with 3:54 to play.

"Watson was one for one but his was huge," Pearl noted. "He makes a big-time contested 3 as the shot clock is going down."

The most encouraging development, though, was the marksmanship of Bradshaw. He went 0 for 11 from 3-point range during a seven-game stretch from Jan. 21 through Feb. 11 but has made six of 12 over the past three games, including three of six Wednesday night. That's pretty good for a power forward.

"When our 4 man starts to shoot the ball this stuff really works," Pearl said. "It really works when you can spread ‘em out a little bit."

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