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VOLS CLINCH SEC EAST TITLE WITH 76-72 WIN OVER FLORIDA
Dane Bradshaw

Dane Bradshaw

Feb. 22, 2006

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Game Highlights

Coach Pearl | D. Bradshaw

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Tennessee's Major Wingate stood in front of Corey Brewer, his 6-foot-10 frame and long arms making an inbounds pass very difficult. Maybe even impossible.

Brewer was supposed to make two reads and then call a timeout. Instead, he attempted a tough pass around Wingate that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Another turnover, another layup, another loss for Florida.

Dane Bradshaw's layup with 15 seconds to play gave No. 10 Tennessee the lead and the Volunteers went on to a 76-72 victory over the 12th-ranked Gators on Wednesday night.

Bradshaw had a similar closing-minute layup in Tennessee last month when the Volunteers handed Florida its first loss of the season after a 17-0 start.

"Who else would make the play to win the game?" Vols coach Bruce Pearl said. "It was obviously a gamble, but it was one that paid off."

Much like in the first meeting, the Gators (22-5, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) had a shot to win it, but Brewer's turnover helped Tennessee (20-4, 11-2) pull out another one.

Brewer's inbounds pass with 18 seconds remaining was intended for Al Horford. Instead, Bradshaw stole it, spun around Taurean Green near the free throw line and scored the game-winning basket.

"I should have called time out," Brewer said. "I thought about it and everything started going fast. I made a bad play."

Brewer missed a 3-pointer on the other end with about 3 seconds to play, then the Gators fouled Chris Lofton. He calmly made both, putting the Vols ahead 76-72.

Brewer also had the costly turnover in Knoxville. He was driving for the game-winner, but Lofton stole it and Bradshaw scored on the other end to start a wild celebration.

This one was much more subdued - but only because it came on the road.

Tennessee clinched the Eastern Division's No. 1 seed in next month's SEC tournament and secured its first series sweep of Florida since 2000.

"It was more than a statement game," Bradshaw said. "It was a championship game for us. We wanted to be able to control our own destiny, which we've been able to do. This win on the road was huge for us."

Guards Lofton (16), Bradshaw (15), and C.J. Watson (13) combined to score 44 points on 16-of-34 shooting for Tennessee, which was 11-of-21 from 3-point range.

Joakim Noah led the Gators with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks before getting a tooth knocked out with about 2 minutes to play. He left the floor bleeding.

Brewer had 17 points, but was 2-of-6 from 3-point range and had six turnovers.

"We just didn't execute down the stretch like we needed to," Florida's Chris Richard said. "Same exact thing happened twice. We didn't play as good as we can and we didn't execute at the end of the game."

The Vols led 69-66 with 1:28 to play before Brewer tied the game with a 3-pointer. But JaJuan Smith answered seconds later. Brewer then missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Horford got the rebound, handed it to Lee Humphrey, who hit his only 3-pointer of the night for the final tie.

The Vols fumbled away the ball with about 19 seconds to play, giving Florida its shot. But Brewer inexplicably threw the inbounds pass away, and Bradshaw stole it.

Florida led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the Volunteers closed the period with a 13-4 run behind Lofton's shooting.

He hit tough 3s on consecutive possessions, then added another with about a minute to play.

The Volunteers carried the momentum into the second half and led 59-52, but Florida chipped away at the lead.

Tennessee, though, hit two huge 3-pointers that prevented the Gators from moving back in front.

Watson hit a falling-down shot from behind the line with less than 4 minutes to play, then Smith's came with 1:30 remaining.

"No one likes losing, but it's great for our basketball team to go through this," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It is great because they need this. I really believe the difference was our experience as a basketball team in relation to their experience."

 

 

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