Tennessee upsets No. 13 Florida 67-56
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
The Gators, who have lost all four of their true road games this year, came in averaging 85.4 points this season, best among SEC teams and fifth in the nation. The Volunteers held them to 35.7 percent shooting while hitting 51 percent of their own attempts.
Josh Richardson hit a 3-pointer 41 seconds into the second half that set the tone for the Vols the rest of the way. Cameron Tatum stole the ball from Erving Walker on the next possession and ran it down the floor for a dunk to give Tennessee a 38-31 lead.
Kenny Boynton hit a 3-pointer for the Gators at the other end. Boynton, who entered the game averaging 19.5 points, finished with 13. Erik Murphy also had 13 for Florida (12-4, 0-1) and Patric Young added 12.
Renaldo Woolridge answered with a layup for the Vols. Tatum drew a charge by Bradley Beal and after running a bit of an offensive set drove to the basket to hit a layup to make it 42-34.
The Vols (8-7, 1-0) expanded their lead as they hit 12 of 22 shots in the second half while the Gators hit only 8 of 27. Tennessee controlled the post in the second half and outscored Florida 32-20 in the paint.
Smothered by defenders, Jordan McRae hit a jumper near the basket to give Tennessee a 65-49 lead with 1:57 to go, putting the game out of reach for Florida.
It's the first signature victory for first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, who replaced Bruce Pearl after the popular coach was fired for NCAA infractions. Pearl opened his own Tennessee career winning eight of nine games against Florida before finishing on a four-game losing streak in the series.
Tennessee had lost to its previous three ranked opponents this season by an average 5.7 points but looked listless in a 69-51 loss at Memphis on Wednesday.
The Gators got their customary strong performance from their starters, who are all averaging double-digit scoring this year. But Florida's reserves only managed one point, a free throw by Casey Prather.
Though Florida entered the game with the advantage in nearly every statistical category, the two teams played to a near draw in the first half, with Tennessee entering halftime with a 33-29 lead.
The Vols outshot the Gators 48.1 percent to 41.4 percent in the first half and had four more points in the paint. Thanks to a solid effort by McRae, who was relegated to the bench for the first time all season, the Tennessee reserves outscored Florida's 11-0 in the first half.