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Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers Opponent Preview

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Will Tennessee sweep the swamp lizards?

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Tennessee
Tennessee needs to continue to receive good play from the guard position.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Cue up the jean shorts, mullets, and crazy newspaper headlines.

That’s right, the Florida Gators are in town.

The Tennessee Volunteers will take on its arch nemesis for the second time this season after a 78-67 win during the first meeting back in January.

The Gators were able to give the Vols a bit of a run for their money, but Tennessee put the clamps down during the final minutes of the game.

Then Grant Williams ran around the court doing the Gator Chop and the rest is history.

Will history repeat itself? If there aren’t any Gator Chops going down on Saturday - unless it’s Williams again - then fans will have their answer.

Conference Record and Standings

  • Southeastern Conference
  • 12-10 (4-5) t-9th
  • Lost two in a row

Impact Players

  • G KeVaughn Allen: 12.9 PPG, 41.4 FG%, 87.9 FT%, 35.0 3PT%, 2.5 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.9 TO, 1.5 STL, 29.7 MIN

Allen continues to be the Gators’ best offensive threat. The talented senior is averaging around 16.2 points per game while shooting close to 40% from the floor since these teams last met.

His 6-foot-2 193-pound frame allows him to be physical and aggressive on his way to the basket. That combined with his ability to hit the three-point shot make him a threat on offense. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against the quicker guards of the Vols.

Allen scored 18 points when these teams met in Gainesville earlier in the year, but faded down the stretch when his team needed him most. Will it be different this time around?

  • G Noah Locke: 11.4 PPG, 40.0 FG%, 78.1 FT%, 42.1 3PT%, 2.4 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.5 TO, 0.4 STL, 25.3 MIN

Just like Allen, Locke has only gotten better since the last meeting. He’s still capable of making freshman mistakes, but the future is certainly bright with this kid.

He had nine straight games scoring in double-digits at one point in the season, but has cooled off lately, scoring in the double-digits twice in the last four games. However, he did score 22 points and 10 points in those two games.

Locke is at his best when is hitting the three, which is what Tennessee will need to guard against on Saturday night. He scored a career-high 27 points against the Texas A&M Aggies on 9 of 18 shooting from the floor, which included an absurd 7 of 13 from three-point territory.

If Tennessee can take away that part of his game, then he is pretty much just another guy.

There’s plenty of reason to think that Tennessee will want to lock down the perimeter when the ball is in Locke’s hands. The question will be, can they do it?

Most Recent

The Auburn Tigers ripped the Gators 76-62 for their first home victory against Florida in 20 years.

Florida shot a miserable 20.0 percent from beyond the arc on a night where they shot 46.0 percent from the floor as a whole. The offensive inconsistency was highlighted further by 17 very costly turnovers. The offense almost didn’t make a single basket for the final 5:30 of the game.

The Gators trailed 36-30 at halftime, but a 13-4 run by the Tigers to open the second half helped build an 18-point lead with just over eight minutes left in the game.

Kevarrius Hayes led the team with 11 points, despite not starting the game. He was forced to sit for a little while after being late to a team meeting. Locke tied for second on the team with 10 points, but all of his points came in the first half.

It was a very disheartening loss for a team that had won three straight SEC games before losing the last two. Florida has to find a way to get their offense going or else they may finish below .500 in conference play for the year.

Game Outlook

The Gators played the Vols tough last time around, but that was in the comfy confines of the O’Connell Center. Without the raucous and stupid crowd at its back, this game has the potential to go in a different direction than the last meeting.

It’s worth noting that Rick Barnes is 3-1 against Florida since he arrived in Knoxville and Saturday’s matchup has the potential to be the first time the Vols have swept the Gators in a single season since the 2008-2009 season.

Florida’s up-and-down play as of late combined with UT’s steady, efficient play makes this an interesting matchup, despite the difference in the two teams. All it takes is a hot shooting night from the Gators and cold night from the Vols to cause an upset.

But alas, that won’t happen. Expect the Gators to give the Vols a decent game, but UT should take care of business in the end.