Tennessee men's basketball coach Wade Houston said his Vols' patience was the key to a 75-57 Southeastern Conference victory over Florida on Saturday. "It's tough to play a team that is that patient and deliberate," Houston said after watching the outmanned Gators, who suffered their 11th straight loss, keep the pace as slow as they were able. "There's a tendency to gamble, to rush your shots because you just played so long on defense at the other end of the floor."
Florida coach Don DeVoe, who was forced out at Tennessee last spring after 11 years as the Vols' coach, had his depleted squad run 20 to 30 seconds off the 45-second shot clock with virtually every possession through about three quarters of the game.
"We could not get our offense going early in the second half," DeVoe said. "Tennessee finally started making the three-pointers, and that was that. You can't shoot in the 30s and win in this league."
The Gators hit just 22 of 63 shots _ 35 percent. Tennessee hit half its 58 shots.
The Gators (6-16 overall, 2-12 in the Southeastern Conference) held an early 12-10 lead, but Tennessee (13-10, 8-6) went on a 17-2 spurt for a 27-14 lead.
"When your game is an up-tempo game and somebody slows it down on you, it gets a little boring," said Tennessee guard Greg Bell, who had 15 points. "We tried to be patient, because we knew sooner or later they would have to shoot some threes to pick up the pace, especially if we kept a good-sized lead."
That is what happened. Tennessee broke away from a 10-point halftime lead to a 42-26 advantage with 15 minutes left, and the Gators never were closer than 12 again.
"I told the team the first five minutes of the second half would be crucial," Houston said. "We came out a little lethargic so I called time out and read the riot act to them."
Tennessee's Allan Houston led all scorers with 23 points. Ian Lockhart had 12 and Ronnie Reese 10 for the Vols.
Florida has not won since Livingston Chatman and Dwayne Schintzius left the team a month ago. The 11 straight losses are three short of the school record for consecutive defeats, set in the 1981-82 season.
Stacey Poole led Florida with 14 points. Dwayne Davis and Renaldo Garcia scored 13 each.