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Florida Gators upset No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers 75-62

Florida’s Chandler Parsons, who tied for the team lead with 19 points, soars over Tennessee’s J.P. Prince during the second half.

Associated Press

Florida’s Chandler Parsons, who tied for the team lead with 19 points, soars over Tennessee’s J.P. Prince during the second half.

GAINESVILLE — It has been an up-and-down season for Erving Walker.

He started SEC play on fire from 3-point range but had cooled recently, going 1-of-11 in his past three games.

But Walker and Florida caught fire from beyond the arc when they needed it most, despite facing the SEC's leader in defending the 3-point line.

The Gators hit four straight 3s, including three straight from Walker, as part of a 27-6 second-half run en route to a 75-62 victory over No. 19 Tennessee, snapping the Volunteers' six-game winning streak in the series.

The Gators (20-8, 9-4 SEC) had made 7 of 39 3-pointers entering Tuesday and went 1-of-9 in the first half.

"Thank God," Walker said of finding his touch. "Finally, I hit some shots again."

Walker and Chandler Parsons scored 19 apiece as the Gators took sole possession of third place in the SEC East and clinched their 12th straight 20-win season, the longest such streak in the conference. It was the sixth straight game in double figures for Parsons. Vernon Macklin scored 13 and Kenny Boynton chipped in 12.

"In order to really put teams away in a lot of ways, you have to shoot the ball well," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "That's what a lot of our teams in the past here at Florida have done.

"We got on that stretch where Walker made three in a row, and Chandler made one, and next thing you know it's bang, bang, bang — in two minutes the game was blown open."

The Vols (20-7, 8-5 SEC) were plagued by foul trouble on their frontline most of the game. Leading scorer Wayne Chism played just 15 minutes and finished with seven points and five rebounds. Coach Bruce Pearl started center Brian Williams to match up better with Florida.

"I was concerned with Florida's physicality," Pearl said. "What had been a nonstrength for Florida has turned into a real strength for them. We don't have great depth on the frontline, or at least the guys we have weren't able to play with Florida."

Chism picked up his third foul on a moving screen less than three minutes into the second half, but Pearl decided to leave him in the game. That decision backfired when the senior forward picked up his fourth foul with 16:01 left, sending him to the bench for more than eight minutes.

Florida took advantage of Chism's absence in the post with back-to-back baskets in the paint by Macklin and Alex Tyus, and the Gators' game-changing run soon followed.

Florida found its shot from behind the arc, and it never looked back.

"We wanted to make a statement," Parsons said. "We definitely feel as though (we are) one of the best teams in the country, and we can compete against anybody on any night.

"Anytime you get a team top 20 in the country in your building, it's a must-win, especially with everything we had on the line."

Florida 75

No. 19 Tenn. 62

Florida Gators upset No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers 75-62 02/23/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 12:33am]
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