Tennessee got absolutely thumped by Florida, 49-75.
Goodness. What an awful, awful loss.
The Vols were sluggish out of the gate, but managed to keep the Gators close for 10 minutes of the first half. A 5-0 run stretched the UF lead out from four points to 11 at the 6-minute mark of the game’s opening period, and Tennessee again closed the lead to within five before Florida closed the half on a 9-3 run.
The stats from the first half were ugly:
The Vols shot just 28 percent from the field, including 3-12 from 3-point range, while allowing Florida to his 17 of its total 34 shots. The Gators outrebounded Tennessee 26-15 in the first half and turned the Vols over five times.
But the games final stats were worse:
Tennessee hit just 17 of its 58 shot attempts, missed more free throws than it made (13 to 12), lost the rebounding battle 44-36, had only 11 assists to Florida’s 15 and committed a season-high 18 turnovers.
The Vols were also dominated in two areas where they normally excel — Florida outscored Tennessee 42-22 in the paint, and the Gator bench outscored the Vols’ 22-9.
Tennessee really missed freshman guard Jaden Springer, who I presume is out again nursing the sprained ankle he suffered in the Alabama game. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tennessee’s two worst games of the season have come with Springer not available.
UT usually hangs its hat on its defense, but the Vols really struggled there tonight, especially on-ball. I’ll need to re-watch to get a full feel for who hurt Tennessee here, because I don’t want to single out Keon Johnson, but he was the one I really noticed during the game getting beat off the dribble.
I mentioned this on Twitter, but I’ll reiterate here: this is a game where it was really apparent that Tennessee doesn’t have an ideal, true point guard on the floor. I love, love Santiago Vescovi, but his athletic limitations hurt him in this sense. The Vols scored zero transition points against the Gators, and while that blame doesn’t squarely fall on Vescovi, that’s area where you look for your point guard to have a major impact.
Tennessee’s starting three guards, Vescovi, Keon Johnson and Josiah James (or two starting guards and small forward — whatever), and Victor Bailey combined to shoot an unbelievably bad 8-38 from the field accounting for 25 total points. That just plain isn’t good enough.
Tennessee’s post players aren’t immune to criticism, either, I mentioned the rebounding discrepancy, but Florida also scored 13 second chance points to Tennessee’s five. That’s mostly on the bigs. John Fulkerson had a good game — I don’t want to take anything away from him. He was the only Vol to score in double figures with 15 points but only added four rebounds. The Vols are undersized and need more rebounds from the guy playing center. Fellow post player Yves Pons went just 2-7 from the field, scored just five total points and only snagged four boards.
Alas, it’s snap and clear, as the football guys say — on to the next game. Tennessee is scheduled to play no. 19 Missouri on Saturday.