Jan. 7, 2012
(12-4, 0-1 SEC)
(8-7, 1-0 SEC)
Tallied 12 points and handed out seven assists to lead Vols to win over #13 Gators. Knocked down two clutch 3-pointers in win.
An unranked Tennessee team knocked off a ranked Florida team for the ninth time in history and first time since Feb. 27, 2007.
Kenny Hall tallied a season high with 13 points, in his first game off the bench this season.
The Vols outscored the Gators by 24 in bench points, 25-1.
The Vols held Florida to a season-low 35.7 field goal percentage. The Gators' previous low was 41.2 vs. Arizona.
Tennessee held Florida to a season-low 56 points and lowest mark since the Gators scored 54 against Kentucky in the 2011 SEC Tournament (3/13/11).
BY JOSH PATE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee placed four players in double-figures as the Volunteers opened Southeastern Conference play with a 67-56 upset victory over No. 13-ranked Florida on Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.
In head coach Cuonzo Martin's conference debut, his defensive-minded Vols held Florida's three-guard attack in check by winning the edge in the paint and holding the Gators to just 29.6 percent shooting in the second half. Florida (12-4, 0-1 SEC) shot a season-low 35.7 percent in the game to Tennessee's 51 percent.
"I thought it was a great atmosphere," said Martin, whose Vols improved their record to 8-7, 1-0 in the SEC. "It was fun to watch our guys really compete and battle. I don't think there have been too many times like that this year that we've played like that from a passion standpoint, playing for each other and defending the way we did."
It was the Vols' first win over a ranked team this season and first since Feb. 22, 2011, when Tennessee upset No. 18 Vanderbilt 60-51 in Nashville.
"It was really good for us to get our confidence back after the loss at Memphis and I think it was really good for our fans," said Jeronne Maymon, who scored 12 points for the Vols. "It's only one game, but we were just trying to start it off strong. Everybody's record was 0-0 so we were just trying to start over like a new year."
The fresh start was fueled by an emotional team meeting on Friday.
"We had a great team meeting last night with our chaplain Roger Woods and also (former Vol All-American) Tony White," Martin said. "Those guys gave our guys good inspiration with the things they said. It was great. They said some wonderful things."
The pep talk worked.
Tennessee's plan from the outset was to feed the inside. The Vols outscored the Gators 32-20 in the paint and continuously drove the basketball rather than taking the long shot. Tennessee only attempted 10 3-pointers and made five of them.
"We did a great job of scoring in the paint," Martin said. "We shot five 3s in the first half and I thought we played a very effective game, a very efficient game. We were just putting our head down, getting to the lane and making things happen."
It was the first time all season Martin has toyed with the lineup, this time starting Josh Richardson and Renaldo Woolridge instead of Kenny Hall and Jordan McRae. Hall and McRae responded off the bench. Hall led the inside presence for UT by scoring 13 points, and McRae got going midway through the first half and finished with 10 points.
Maymon and Trae Golden both added 12 points.
The high output by Hall and McRae off the bench exemplified Tennessee's advantage in bench points. The Vols outscored the Gators' bench 25-1, with Casey Prather's free throw the only score by a Florida sub.
Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy led the Gators with 13 each.
Tennessee pulled out of a tight game late in the first half thanks to a jumper by Wes Washpun and then a 3-pointer from Golden to end the half with the Vols up 33-29.
In the second half, it was all Vols. Richardson nailed an early 3, and Cameron Tatum got a steal and a dunk to make it 38-31 Tennessee.
Hall got going midway through the second half when he converted a three-point play and Tatum added a pair of free throws for Tennessee to expand the lead into double figures at 55-43.
Tatum followed that up with a falling-down 3-pointer from the corner to make it 58-43 Vols as they began to pull away.
Florida converted a pair of free throws, but Maymon responded with some defensive pressure. He fought for a rebound on the defensive end, then made it worth the effort offensively when he worked for a bucket in the paint to make it 60-45 Vols.
The Gators attempted to charge back with a pair of free throws from Patric Young. Then Florida's Bradley Beal drove the basket on the following possession but missed from point-blank range. The follow-up by Will Yeguete also missed to sum up the afternoon for Florida.
McRae dropped in a circus shot in the lane to make it 65-49 with 2:32 remaining for Tennessee's biggest lead. Florida chipped away in a hurry with two Murphy free throws and five consecutive points from Erving Walker. But a pair of Trae Golden free throws and two missed 3s from Florida sealed the upset victory in Knoxville.
"I think the only people that thought we were going to get our next win today were us in the locker room," Golden said. "It was very satisfying. It's something we just have to continue to work at. We can't get complacent."
There's no time for complacency, either. Tennessee travels to Mississippi State on Thursday for a 9 p.m. ET tipoff (ESPN2) against the Bulldogs. The Vols then return home after the quick turnaround to host No. 2 Kentucky next Saturday at noon.