The Vols will now shift their focus to another SEC East opponent in the Florida Gators. It will be Tennessee’s second straight road game, but Rick Barnes expects - as he always does - his players to be prepared and focused.
Florida is very similar to Missouri. Offense is guard-oriented and the defense is stout.
Will the results be the same? We will find out for sure on Saturday, but until then, here is a quick preview of the Gators.
Conference Record and Standings
- Southeastern Conference
- 9-5 (1-1) t-5th
- Won last game
- G KeVaughn Allen: 10.9 PPG, 41.0 FG%, 2.8 REB, 84.1 FT%, 29.7 3PT%, 2.6 AST, 1.4 TO, 1.6 STL, 28.1 MIN
Even though he leads the team in scoring, there is no debate that Allen has struggled this year. Head coach Mike White even spoke on Allen’s inconsistencies this year after the loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Allen scored 10 points in the first half, but didn’t attempt a single shot in the final 19 minutes of the game. When he’s fast and aggressive, he’s one of Florida’s best offensive threats.
There’s no doubt that Tennessee will make him earn his on Saturday. If Allen can create plays and avoid turnovers, then it may be a competitive game. But if he plays like he did against the Gamecocks, then the Gators will be in trouble.
- G Noah Locke: 10.0 PPG, 40.2 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 42.4% 3PT, 2.4 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.3 TO, 0.4 STL, 20.9 MIN
While the talented freshman is one of the keys to the program’s future, his youth has shown up quite a bit during an up-and-down season.
But that hasn’t stopped Locke from making plays. He is second on the team in scoring and leads the team in three-point percentage.
The Gators will need Locke to be on point from the key on Saturday. This will help open up the front court and give their big men some opportunities to score.
Regardless of what happens in this game, the Vols will have to deal with Locke a lot in the near future.
- C Kevarrius Hayes: 6.7 PPG, 61.5 FG%, 62.5 FT%, 5.9 REB, 2.0 BLK, 1.4 TO, 0.8 STL, 21.8 MIN
At 6-foot-9, Hayes is the definition of size for the Gators. He and just a couple of depth players are the only ones who reach that height. The size difference should be a huge advantage for Tennessee.
Hayes is sold, but is nothing spectacular. The Vols have done a good job of controlling opponents’ big this season, so it will be fun to see if Hayes can break the trend.
The Gators eeked out a 57-51 over the Arkansas Razorbacks in order to avoid their first losing streak of the season.
Florida led by just two points with :33 seconds left in the game, but they managed to escape due to a late defensive stop and four straight free throws from senior guard KeVaughn Allen. A loss would’ve marked the second straight double-digit collapse for the Gators.
Vaughn led the team in scoring with 18 points, but 11 of the 18 came from the charity stripe. He finished the evening barley eclipsing a 25% shooting percentage.
But it wasn’t just Vaughn that struggled. Florida’s entire offense practically took the night off. They shot just 31% from the field, which includes a pathetic 6-for-26 mark from three.
UF’s 57 points was the second-lowest mark on the season, but fortunately for them, the defense came to play. Arkansas’ elite offense - they average 81 points on the year - was held to a season-low 51 points.
Florida certainly isn’t what it used to be when it comes to basketball in 2019. If they don’t come prepared, then UT will win their third straight SEC game by 20+ points.
It’s a terrible matchup on paper and on the court. The Gators have no offense. This can be proven by the fact that they are 242nd in the NCAA in field goal percentage (43.1%), 262nd in scoring offense (70.8 ppg), and tied for 153rd in rebound margin (1.9).
Defense is what carries this team. Florida is 10th in the country in scoring defense (60.7 ppg) and force close to 17 turnovers per game. Just two players, Vaughn and Noah Locke average more than 10 points per game.
If the defense doesn’t play well then this game should be over by halftime. Expect the Vols to beat Florida for the second straight time and move to 3-0 in the conference.