After another dud of a game on the road against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday night, Tennessee came out at home against the Florida Gators with a buzz about them. It was a noticeable difference from the weekend, where Tennessee played from behind for the entire game.
The home crowd was ready and rocking early.
The Volunteers jumped out to a 6-0 lead as Florida struggled to find bottom of the bucket. That early success would be short lived though as the Tennessee offense went cold. Florida’s offensive attack wasn’t much better, but they were able to pull even with Tennessee at 14 all midway through the first half.
The Vols settled down though and got back to playing defense. They went back to Grant Williams on the offensive end and he came through. Grant scored 10 first half points, powering the Tennessee offense early on.
Tennessee built their lead back to nine as halftime arrived. It was a 27-18 lead for the Volunteers.
Admiral Schofield and Lamonte Turner grew the Tennessee lead out of the break with a couple of three pointers. But after that, the Volunteer offense seemed to fall apart. There wasn’t much rhythm from either side, but Florida was able to get a couple turnovers and turn those into baskets at the other end.
Grant Williams checked back in with three fouls with 11:36 left to play. The Tennessee offense badly needed a spark, so Barnes took a chance by putting his big man back in at that point.
Williams immediately got Tennessee a bucket out of the timeout. Jordan Bowden backed that up with a transition dunk, then Schofield scored on the following possession from the block. Just like that, Tennessee was back up eight.
After a quick Florida run, Tennessee went back to Grant, who delivered. He was locked in tonight, winning the battle down low. Tennessee just kept pounding, which was really the only consistent offensive threat available tonight.
Florida hung around with a couple of deep three pointers though. It was Jalen Hudson getting hot and keeping the Gators alive, getting them to within four points with under two minutes to play.
After trading baskets, Florida had a chance to get within one possession, but Chris Chiozza threw up a wild shot that didn’t fall. The Gators were forced to foul from there. Jordan Bowden hit one of two from the line, bringing the lead back to five.
Florida came back with Chiozza, who got a bucket and the foul in the paint. He missed the free throw, but Florida was within striking distance now down three.
Bowden hit two free throws at the other end to put this one on ice. Tennessee held on to win this one, 62-57.
Grant Williams finished with 23 points on 8-13 shooting. He was the offense tonight with some help from Admiral Schofield, who added 16 points of his own.
The Vols will be back in action on Saturday against Ole Miss.