They were smoking. Racing up and down the court at breakneck speed. Pulling up and shooting field goals at a rate a full five percentage points better than their average. Hitting all but one of their free throw attempts. Dropping three after three after three.
And they were getting run out of the building. Yes, the Vols were electric, but the Gators, well the Gators were lightning itself. In the first half, Florida, motivated by the opportunity to shore up its invitation to the NCAA Tournament, shot 67% from the field, 90% from the free throw line, and 58% from behind the arc. In table form, courtesy of hooper:
The place was crawling with cold-blooded reptiles for the first 20 minutes, and the teams went to the locker room with Florida up 55-42. When the teams returned for the second half, however, summer relapsed into winter, and alligators don't do well when it's nippy outside. Florida went cold. Frigid. Icy.
The numbers, again courtesy of hooper:
Those are not bad numbers for the Gators, really, except in contrast to the way they played in the first half. But tonight, the Vols were consistent, and consistently hot beat lightning and ice.
The night belonged to guards JaJuan Smith and Chris Lofton. Juanny hit 9-13 from the field and 4-7 from three-point land on this way to 23 points, and Lofton went 6-11 from the field, 5-6 from the stripe, and 4-8 from the arc on his way to 21. Teardrops, Wheezy, and Pajamas all hit double figures as well. Wheezy hit a couple of key free throws down the stretch despite taking a knee to the head to get there.
All in all, it was a fantastic game for the Vols, a victory that, when combined with Mississippi State's one-point overtime loss at Vanderbilt, won Tennessee the outright SEC regular season championship for the first time in 41 years.
From the sphere:
- VolNation: Vols are SEC Champions!
- Ghost of Neyland: History Wears Orange
- UT Vols Football: SEC Champs
- Fulmer's Belly: SEC Champs!
- Late addition -- The BruceBall Blog: SEC Champions