KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Once again, Thompson-Boling Arena proved to be a house of horrors for the Florida Gators.
Behind 27 points from junior guard Jordan McRae, Tennessee knocked off No. 8 Florida 64-58, sending the Gators to their third loss in seven games.
Mike Rosario led the Gators (22-5, 12-3 SEC) with 16 points, and Patric Young added 15. Florida has lost seven of its past eight games at Tennessee.
Down 35-32 at halftime, Florida scored the first five of the second half, taking a 37-35 lead on two Rosario free throws. But the Vols (17-10, 9-6) answered with an 8-0 run, going ahead 43-37 on Kenny Hall's dunk.
Tennessee led the rest of the way. Florida got within 58-54 on Scottie Wilbekin's layup with 1:57 left and got the ball back after a Tennessee miss. But with 1:14 left, Kenny Boynton missed an open 3-point attempt in transition. Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes then muscled his way inside for a putback layup as he was fouled by Erik Murphy with 54.4 seconds left. Stokes converted the three-point play to put the Vols back up 61-54.
The foul was Murphy's fifth, and to compound matters, Florida junior forward Casey Prather was back in the trainer's room after taking a blow to the head that drew blood. That left the Gators with freshman DeVon Walker on the floor in the closing seconds.
Down to six regular players in its rotation, Florida started the game with energy, jumping to a 9-2 lead. With Will Yeguete and Tampa's Michael Frazier II out, Braxton Ogbueze was the first player off the bench for the Gators. DeVon Walker also saw time in the first half.
Florida did a good job on Stokes in the first half, double-teaming the 6-foot-8, 270-pound big man at times while getting him into foul trouble. Stokes picked up his second foul with 6:03 left and Florida up 24-19.
Young took advantage, getting a tip-in on an offensive rebound to put Florida up 29-23. But the Vols went on a 12-3 run, sparked by McRae's two 3-pointers, the second getting them to 32-31.
Off a Rosario turnover, Skylar McBee hit an open 3-pointer to put Tennessee ahead 34-32.