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Saturday January 25, 2014At the Buzzer: Florida 67, Tennessee 41

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer


WHAT HAPPENED: The sixth-ranked Gators turned their defense up loud enough to rival the super-sonic sounding home crowd and smashed the Southeastern Conference rival Volunteers for an 11th straight win. Sophomore guard Michael Frazier scored 17 points and senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin chimed in with 13 and in-your-face defense against one of the league's premier offensive players (see below). As evenly distributed as UF's baskets were (four players with double-figures, another with 9 points), it was the baskets visiting UT did not score -- and there were many -- that proved the difference in this game. The Vols scored just nine field goals through the game’s first 29 minutes and finished with a season-low point output in making just 26.8 percent from the floor.

WHAT IT MEANS: Florida remained the lone unbeaten team in the SEC, improving to 6-0 in league play while padding the school record for consecutive wins at the O’Connell Center to 26 straight. The Gators opened a three-game cushion on the Vols in the SEC race.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: He may not appear on too many highlights tonight, but sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith was sensational off the bench, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and bringing the Gators unbridled energy under the basket. His diving, into-the-bench save eventually netted a Frazier 3-pointer during an early second-half Florida run that blew the game open. 

STAGGERING STATISTIC: Gotta go with two. Tennessee finished just 1-for-19 from the 3-point line (5.3 percent) against a UF defense that came in ranked 11th in the league -- and 222nd in the nation -- in 3-point defense at 35.2 percent. And the Vols leading scorer, 6-foot-6 guard Jordan McRae, who lit the Gators up for 27 points last season and was coming off a 34-point eruption Wednesday against Arkansas, came in averaging 19.2 points. He finished with just five points on 1-for-15 shooting. Take a bow, Mr. Wilbekin, arguably the best on-ball perimeter defender in the country.

SUBPLOT: The blowout win halted the Vols’ three-game winning streak in the series. Tennessee (12-7, 3-3) came in having won 13 of 19 in the series. For what it’s worth, the Gators go to Knoxville for a rematch Feb. 11.

UP NEXT: The Gators (17-2, 6-0) don’t play until next Thursday when they travel to face Mississippi State (13-6, 3-3).


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