The Gators (17-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak in the series and extended their school record for consecutive home wins to 26.
The latest one was a defensive gem.
Florida held the Volunteers (12-7, 3-3) to a season-low in points and shooting percentage (27). The Volunteers’ backcourt really struggled, with leading scorer Jordan McRae, Antonio Barton and Josh Richardson combining to make 2 of 29 shots.
Jarnell Stokes led Tennessee with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Casey Prather chipped in 12 points for Florida, and Patric Young added 10.
The Gators, who led 26-19 at halftime, pulled away with a 21-5 run after the break. Wilbekin’s floater in the lane got things started, and Frazier’s consecutive 3-pointers really opened it up.
After Will Yeguete’s dunk and Dorian Finney-Smith’s consecutive layups in transition, the Gators were up 17 and really in rhythm.
The only thing left at that point was to start making some highlight plays, and boy, they did.
Kasey Hill hit a pull-up jumper. Young followed with a nifty, reverse post move and later got the sellout crowd rocking with a one-handed dunk on an alley-oop feed from Frazier.
Florida coasted from there, winning for the 16th time in its last 17 games. The only loss in that stretch was a buzzer-beating defeat at then-No. 12 Connecticut in early December.
Gators coach Billy Donovan had little to complain about after his team dominated the second half.
Florida shot 48 percent from the field, including 5 of 16 from behind the arc. The Gators scored 38 points in the paint, made 10 of 13 free throws and finished with a season-low six turnovers.
Stokes gave the Gators some trouble, especially early.
But Donovan’s full-court press gave McRae, Barton and Richardson fits. The Vols had just 13 turnovers, but they ended up taking countless ill-advised shots and had little, if anything, come easy.
Florida swept its fifth straight Thursday-Saturday setup in conference play. This one came after the team was stuck in Tuscaloosa overnight Thursday because of mechanical plane issues. The Gators returned home around noon Friday and had to alter their practice schedule, but they showed no problems against Tennessee.
Florida, which has lost in three straight regional finals in the NCAA tournament, is trying to build a resume that will get it a No. 1 seed and plenty of momentum for a season that started with high expectations. This was another solid win in the right direction.
Source: Associated Press