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Three Quick Takeaways: Tennessee Earns Comeback Win Over Florida

Sean Payton’s Last Season With The Saints Was A Success

Tennessee earned its third straight win Wednesday night, overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit to beat Florida, 78-71.

Here are three quick takeaways.

Disastrous First Half Stretch

It wasn’t a bad start by any means for Tennessee. The Vols jumped out to an 8-5 lead and made their first three triples. However, right before the game’s first media timeout, Tennessee began to unravel.

The Gators proceeded to go on a 15-0 run to take a 23-10 lead into the second media timeout. Florida blitzed the Vols during the stretch but Tennessee’s defense wasn’t the main culprit.

Sure, Florida made a trio of three-pointers during the stretch, but most were well contested. The real issues came on the offensive end.

During the run, Tennessee turned it over on a staggering seven straight possessions. To put that in perspective, Tennessee turns it over just 12.67 times per game.

The turnovers obviously derailed Tennessee’s chances of end the run, but they just as much fueled it for Florida. The late arriving crowd inside Thompson-Boling Arena had zero energy as the Gators turned a number of the turnovers into easy transition baskets.

At one point in the game, Florida led 23-10 and Tennessee was four-of-five shooting from the field.

The Vols survived the run thanks to creating one of their own. Immediately following the 15-0 Florida run, Tennessee used an 11-0 run to cut the Gators lead to two. The run was bolstered by a trio of triples from Zakai Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler.

Still, another poor offensive stretch came for Tennessee in the first half and they went into the locker room trailing by eight.

Vols’ Guards Battle Foul Trouble, Shine

Tennessee’s three best offensive players are Kennedy Chandler, Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler. All three dealt with serious foul trouble in against the rival Gators Wednesday.

Vescovi — who played one of his best offensive games of the season — spent 10 minutes on the bench in the first half after picking up his second foul with 11:35 left in the half. The brutal part for Vescovi is that neither were defensive fouls. The junior’s first foul came on a charge and the second came when he and a Florida player received double technicals.

Both Chandler and Zeigler picked up their second fouls late in the first half and each still played 14 minutes. However, Chandler picked up his third foul 44 seconds into the second half while Zeigler picked up his 1:47 into the second half.

That forced the trio of guards to play much of the game in foul trouble. All they did was shine.

The trio of Vols scored 51 of Tennessee’s 78 points as the Gators’ backcourt had no answer for them.

Vescovi was marvelous shooting, making five-of-eight attempts from three-point range, scoring a game high 23 points.

The freshmen point guards didn’t shoot it as well as their junior counterpart, but brought a ton on the offensive end. Chandler scored 17 points and dished out five assists. The Memphis native did miss a handful of bunnies, but was otherwise spectacular.

Zeigler added 11 points and four assists, doing so on an incredibly efficient four-of-seven shooting. The New York native’s three made three-pointers tied his career high.

Another Strong Three-Point Shooting Night For Tennessee

The strong performances of Vescovi, Chandler and Zeigler probably tipped you off to it, but for the second straight game Tennessee shot fantastic from three-point range.

After shooting 10-of-28 from three-point range in Saturday’s win over LSU, the Vols one upped themselves with 11-of-24 (46%) shooting from deep against the Gators.

Vescovi and Zeigler led the way, combing for eight long balls but five different Tennessee players made triples in the win.

The Vols’ poor shooting has been one of their biggest downfalls this season. Barnes has long said that he believes his team will start making shots. The last two games were a step in the right direction.

It also shows how much of Tennessee’s offensive issues have been due to poor shooting. In a game where Tennessee had multiple scoring droughts longer than four minutes, they scored 70 points for just the second time in SEC play.

It would be surprising if Tennessee shot this well even semi consistently on the road, but if the Vols can shoot like this at Thompson-Boling Arena their, now, 11-game home winning streak will keep growing.

Tennessee was fantastic at the free throw line too. Victor Bailey Jr. missed the front end of the bonus — UT’s first free throw of the game.  From there, Tennessee made 17 straight.

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