Tennessee found a big win against Florida last night on the basketball court. However, after the game, the win itself wasn’t the main topic of conversation on social media. Following the postgame handshake between both teams, a small scuffle broke out on the court that mostly involved verbal jabs between the players.
All of a sudden, fans inside Thompson-Boling Arena were witnessing Florida players sprinting across the court and the whole Tennessee team doing the Gator Chomp in Florida’s direction. WBIR’s Karthik Venkataraman posted a video to social media of the players during the scrum.
Things got quite heated in the postgame handshake line between Tennessee and Florida. pic.twitter.com/eoHPaEGGQ9
— Karthik Venkataraman (@KarthikV_) January 27, 2022
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And now, it looks like we know what was one of the causes of the rise in tension between the teams.
During Rick Barnes’ postgame press conference, he spoke about the small brouhaha between the SEC rivals. According to Barnes, one Florida player made a joke referencing Zakai Zeigler’s height in the post-game handshake line. Once the comment was made, Zeigler, and the entire Tennessee team, let Florida know exactly what they thought of that comment.
“There’s always chirping going on in a game, I told our team after the game that I understand being competitive and getting after it, but we’re going to have a class program,” Barnes said after the game. “There are sometimes where you just have to move on.”
“I think someone made a comment about Zakai being too small,” Barnes said on “The Rick Barnes Show”, according to Knox News. “It can be a lot of different things.”
Tennessee players doing the Gator Chomp to Florida on the way out of Thompson-Boling Arena. pic.twitter.com/Pyb6p60DPO
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) January 27, 2022
The No. 18 Vols took down Florida by a score of 78 to 71 on Wednesday evening in Knoxville. With the win, Tennessee moves to 14-5 on the year and 5-3 in conference play. Zeigler, the man of the hour after the game, had another solid night for Tennessee as well. The freshman guard ended the game with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
The irony in the comment that was made to Zeigler, though, is that Tennessee’s 5-foot-9 freshman guard from The Bronx was tied with Florida’s leading rebounder in the game (6).
The Vols will return to the court this Saturday night in Austin, TX when Tennessee takes on Texas. Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes will be returning to his former school as the Vols look for a crucial non-conference win in the process.
“You guys might not believe this, but I really haven’t thought about it,” Barnes said about the Texas game. “I’ve always been able to stay locked into what we’re doing right here. But starting tomorrow I do know I have to talk to a couple of old buddies of mine there. I can tell you what I told the fans back there, I have incredible respect for the University of Texas. I spent 17 years there. There’s not a person on that campus that I don’t have great respect for. I have two former assistant coaches that left to become head coaches that have gone back to coach Beard’s staff. I know Chris Beard, I know there’s going to be a lot of my former players there. They understand me probably more than anybody. They know that I’m not going to let anything get in the way of our preparation to win this game. Will it be different? I don’t know. I’m seven years removed. I’m a Tennessee Volunteer, I really am.”