Another UT-UF thriller due?

All but lost in the fact that Tennessee's Bruce Pearl is 8-1 against Florida's Billy Donovan is the fact that five of the nine meetings were thrillers that could've gone either way ... including the most recent one.

The date: Jan. 31.

The site: Thompson-Boling Arena.

The crowd: 21,208 strong ... and very, very animated.

Florida rolled to a 10-point first-half lead but trailed 57-54 entering the game's final two minutes. A free throw and a driving layup by the Gators' Chandler Parsons tied the score at 57 with 1:01 to play but two foul shots by the Vols' Wayne Chism untied it with 41.7 seconds left.

Parsons hit a clutch 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Gators a 60-59 lead with 29.1 seconds to go but the Vols' Scotty Hopson hit an equally clutch 19-footer with 16.6 seconds remaining to put Tennessee on top 61-60.

Ultimately, the game came down to the final shot - a banked five-footer by Florida's Alex Tyus that bounded off the back side of the rim with two seconds left.

It was a finish - and a game - Tennessee won't soon forget. Donovan won't soon forget it, either.

"It was a great game at their place," he recalled. "We lost by one point. The game went back and forth, then Hopson made a great shot at the end of the game."

Pearl graciously conceded afterward that Tennessee was "very, very fortunate to have won the game."

He was right.

Florida shot a sizzling 57.7 percent in the first half, including 50 percent (3 of 6) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Vols ratcheted up their defense in the second half, however, limiting the Gators to 36.4 percent, including a dismal 10 percent (1 of 10) from 3. Even so, Florida outshot UT 47.9 to 38.5 percent for the game. Tennessee won by dominating the backboards 41-32 and forcing 17 Florida turnovers.

Even with superior rebounding and second-half defense, however, the Vols needed a rabid home crowd to eke out a one-point victory.

"We don't win without 20,000 going nuts," Pearl conceded.

That's significant, since the "20,000 going nuts" in Tuesday night's rematch at the O'Connell Center will be Gator fans. Tipoff is set for 9 o'clock with an ESPN audience watching.

PEARL VS. DONOVAN HEAD-TO-HEAD

2006: UT 80, Florida 76 (Knoxville)

2006: UT 76, Florida 72 (Gainesville)

2007: Florida 94, UT 78 (Gainesville)

2007: UT 86, Florida 76 (Knoxville)

2008: UT 104, Florida 82 (Knoxville)

2008: UT 89, Florida 86 (Gainesville)

2009: UT 79, Florida 63 (Knoxville)

2009: UT 79, Florida 75 (Gainesville)

2010: UT 61, Florida 60 (Knoxville)


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