Tennessee (14-13) at Florida (13-15)
Saturday, Feb. 28th, 6:00 p.m. ET
Stephen C. O’Connell Center (12,000) • Gainesville, FL
Probable Florida Starters
G-Kasey Hill, 6-1, 182, SO (7.1 ppg, 4.5 apg)
G-Eli Carter, 6-2, 200, JR (8.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
G-Devin Robinson, 6-8, 178, FR (6.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
F-Alex Murphy, 6-8, 225, JR (5.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
F-Jon Horford, 6-10, 245, SR (6.2 ppg, 2.0 bpg)
Probable Tennessee Starters
G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 200, SR (15.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
G-Kevin Punter, 6-4, 180, JR (10.6 ppg, .364 3FG%)
G-Robert Hubbs, 6-6, 206, SO (6.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F-Armani Moore, 6-5, 215, JR (10.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
F-Willie Carmichael III, 6-8, 210, FR (3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Setting the Table
There hasn’t been a more disappointing team in the SEC this year than the Florida Gators. Tabbed to finish second in the league and ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 before the season, the Gators are 13-15 overall and have a 6-9 conference record – tying them with Tennessee, a team picked to finish 13th in the SEC before the season.
The Vols are just 2-8 in their last 10 games and simply haven’t been able to get over the hump in several close contests. Florida is coming off a bad road loss to Missouri. The Gators are 3-9 in their last 12 games and just 1-6 in their last seven outings. Florida’s three wins in that stretch came by a combined six points.
A win would secure at least a .500 regular season record for Tennessee and give them their first win over Florida since 2013. The Vols are 4-3 on the road in SEC and they’ve had a chance to tie or take the lead in the waning moments of each of their losses. If recent history is any indication, this one will be close.
“The thing about it is, we had two great practices. We had a great practice Tuesday and a really really good practice yesterday. I am not discouraged with my team. I certainly didn’t like the way we defended in the second half, but we have had good practices. Guys spirits are up. Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves. We just have to bounce back kind on kind of a quick turnaround and be ready to play.”
– Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall on his team’s mindset heading into the Florida Game
Freshman Vol power forward Jabari McGhee is out for the season after foot surgery. Junior Guard Devon Baulkman will be playing with a torn ligament in his left shoulder. Ian Chiles, who missed significant time this season due to toe and shoulder injuries, had surgery on his injured shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season. Detrick Mostella didn’t play against Vanderbilt due to a “tweaked ankle.” The staff hopeful that he’ll be able to play against Florida. Michael Frazier, Florida’s leading scorer, is doubtful with a high ankle sprain.
3 keys for the Vols
1. Don’t Let Finney-Smith Beat You: Florida’s No. 2 scorer will be returning from a three-game suspension and will undoubtably spark a sputtering Gator offense. Finney-Smith shoots 40% from from 3-point range and is Florida’s leading rebounder. The Vols can’t let him go off in his return and pull off the upset.
2. Active on Defense: Florida shoots a horrible percentage from the charity stripe (64.4% – last in the SEC) but they don’t turn the ball over at a particularly high clip. The Vols should be extra aggressive defensively against the Gators with the hopes of creating more turnovers – putting them at the line a few extra times isn’t a dangerous proposition.
3. Shots, Shots, Shots: We write this every game, but Tennessee can’t beat anyone without knocking down some jump shots. That said, Florida doesn’t have a real rim protector outside of Chris Walker and the Vols should be able to attack the rim which should open up the floor. If Tennessee comes out with energy and aggressiveness on both ends, this is a very winnable game.
KenPom.com: Florida 61-54
Daniel: Florida 57-54
Houston: Tennessee 65-60
Reed: Florida 70-65