Vols are resilient rascals

Here's a word of advice for Tennessee basketball fans who may be tempted to go to bed early if the Vols trail at halftime in tonight's game at Florida: Don't.

The resilient Vols have rallied from halftime deficits to win five times this season, including both games they played last week. Here's a recap:

- Jan. 16: Down 28-33, UT outscored Ole Miss 43-36 thereafter to win 71-69 in overtime at Thompson-Boling Arena.

- Jan. 19: Down 24-25, UT outscored Alabama 39-31 thereafter to win 63-56 at Coleman Coliseum.

- Jan. 31: Down 28-34, UT outscored Florida 33-26 thereafter to win 61-60 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

- Feb. 17: Down 24-29, UT outscored Georgia 49-33 thereafter to win 73-62 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

- Feb. 20: Down 24-28, UT outscored South Carolina 39-27 thereafter to win 63-55 at Colonial Life Center.

Tennessee has trailed at the break 10 times this season, going 5-5 in those games. The Big Orange has led at intermission 15 times, going 14-1 in those games. The only time the Vols squandered a halftime lead was Jan. 27 against visiting Vanderbilt, when they let a 35-31 intermission margin slip away in an 85-76 loss. Tennessee is 1-0 when tied at halftime - that coming in its 76-68 upset of No. 1 Kansas on Jan. 10.

Although Florida has the homecourt advantage tonight, head coach Billy Donovan thinks his Gators might be a bit tired. This will be their third game in six days. They beat Auburn last Thursday and beat Ole Miss in Oxford on Saturday.

"It's a lot of games for us here - playing Thursday, Saturday and now coming back and playing Tennessee on Tuesday," Donovan said earlier this week. "This will be a great challenge for our team here. We've not had a lot of time to prepare but we (Florida and UT) have played each other, so there's certainly some familiarity between both teams."

As noted earlier, the Vols and Gators previously played Jan. 31 at Thompson-Boling Arena, with the Big Orange posting a come-from-behind 61-60 victory. It marked the only time this season that Tennessee shot a worse field-goal percentage than its opponent (38.5 vs. 47.9) but won the game.

NOTES: Tennessee's Scotty Hopson is building a reputation as a "Gator Killer." As a freshman last year he hit 52.6 percent of his shots in two games vs. Florida, including 46.2 percent of his 3s. He posted his first 20-point outing as a Vol in the game at Knoxville and sealed the win at Gainesville with a blocked shot in the closing seconds. Hopson also nailed the game-winning jumper with 16.6 seconds left in this year's game at Knoxville.... The 19th-ranked Vols bring a 20-6 overall record into tonight's game, the unranked Gators a 19-8 mark. Each team is 8-4 in SEC play.... All five Florida starters average double-figure scoring. Kenny Boynton, a 6-2 freshman, averages 13.5 points per game. Erving Walker, a 5-8 sophomore, averages 13.0, followed by 6-8, 220-pound junior Alex Tyus at 12.5, 6-9, 215-pound junior Chandler Parsons at 11.4 and 6-10, 240-pound junior Vernon Macklin at 10.3. Tyus and Parsons share the rebounding lead at 7.0 per game. Walker leads in assists at 5.1 per game.... Tonight's game will be televised nationally by ESPN.


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