GAINESVILLE — After going 1-1 against Tennessee in Gainesville the past two seasons, at times outplaying UT in both games, Florida had hoped that if the Vols made it out of the O'Connell Center on Thursday night with a victory, they at least would be able to say they had been in a battle.
Instead, it wasn't even a fair fight.
Fifth-ranked Tennessee (16-2, 4-0 SEC) dominated from the start on the way to an 83-40 victory in front of 3,441.
"Obviously we're very disappointed, not just for the outcome but the way the whole game went," Florida coach Amanda Butler said.
"We knew we were going to have to play well to beat them, but I was just really disappointed with our toughness. You have to give Tennessee credit for setting the tone right from the beginning — offensively, defensively, the tempo, the rebounding battle — they basically took all those things from us right from the tip, and we never adjusted and responded with the toughness I know this team possesses."
The Gators (12-6, 2-2) shot 28 percent from the field in the first five minutes and trailed 47-15 at halftime, only the fifth time this season Florida had trailed at the half. The Gators' largest deficit at the half had been five points.
"We expected it to be a close game, but I'm very pleased that we were able to separate ourselves," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "Shooting the ball well is one thing, but I liked our defensive intensity, and I thought that gave us obviously some great opportunities. … If you can dictate what happens on the glass, then you've got a chance of going to the other end and making good things occur."
Tennessee outrebounded the Gators 57-37 (UF had just four offensive rebounds in the first half) and shot 47.8 percent from the field. Florida shot 21.4 percent (15-of-70) from the field, the third-worst field-goal percentage in school history.
"Once we couldn't stop them from doing what we knew they were going to do, we lost confidence," Florida guard Deana Allen said.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.