As Admiral Schofield walked to the bench with 9:58 left in the second half with a two point Tennessee lead, things were very much up in the air at the O-Dome. Tennessee’s star senior wing had just picked up his fourth foul and the Florida Gators were firmly in ballgame. Just a couple of minutes later, things got worse.
Kyle Alexander picked up his fourth foul and was forced to exit the ballgame. That left John Fulkerson in his place, joining Grant Williams, Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner on the floor. Down two starters for the next several minutes, the Vols still found a way to take control of the game.
Once again it was Jordan Bowden coming through for Tennessee, as he has for the past week. The Knoxville native ramped up the aggression, streaking to the rim when he got the chance. That resulted in a couple of fast break opportunities and tipped the scales in the Vols’ favor when it mattered the most.
After a three pointer, a handful of free throws and a couple of finishes at the rim, Bowden had scored 12 straight to keep the Vols breathing with a two point lead with five minutes to play. Bowden ended with 17 points, shooting 5-11 from the field and 6-7 from the free throw stripe.
Yet again, it was another encouraging moment for this team. They had to have someone step up with Florida really honing in on Grant Williams and Bowden stepped up in crunch time when they had to have him.
Bowden kept Tennessee’s head above water during that eight minute stretch, then Schofield came back in and delivered the dagger to put the Vols up five. Tennessee poured it on late, making this one look worse than it really was.
Rick Barnes keeps getting these guys to step up though. Whether it’s Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Kyle Alexander or Lamonte Turner, Tennessee has a lot of options outside of Grant and Admiral. You simply couldn’t say that at any point last season.