Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

Gators lose finale at Tennessee; SEC tournament up next

Florida drops to the No. 5 seed in the conference tourney, plays in Thursday’s second round.
Tennessee guard Yves Pons shoots against Florida forward Omar Payne on Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee guard Yves Pons shoots against Florida forward Omar Payne on Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn. [ RANDY SARTIN | AP ]
Published Mar. 8
Updated Mar. 8

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Victor Bailey, John Fulkerson and Keon Johnson scored 14 points apiece and Tennessee rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Florida 65-54 Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Tennessee (17-7, 10-7 SEC) secured the No. 4 seed and a bye into the Friday’s quarterfinals of the conference tournament in Nashville.

Fulkerson added seven rebounds and four assists, and Josiah-Jordan James had eight points and 10 boards for the Volunteers.

The Gators used a 13-2 run to take a 31-17 lead with five minutes left in the first half, but Tennessee scored 11 of the final 13 first-half points to trim its deficit to five at the break. Florida missed seven consecutive shots from the field, and 9 of 10,as the Vols ripped off a 21-4 spurt — including eight points by Bailey — to make it 53-43 with 7:33 to play.

Tyree Appleby had 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and Colin Castleton added 11 points for Florida (13-9, 9-7), which lost two straight to close out the regular season.

The fifth-seeded Gators play the winner between No. 12 seed Texas A&M and No. 13 seed Vanderbilt in Thursday’s second round.

After being outrebounded 18-16 in the first half, Tennessee was plus-11 on the glass in the second. Florida had just 21 points after the break, its lowest-scoring half of the season.

The Gators went into the game leading the SEC in free-throw percentage (.760, 37th NCAA), field-goal percentage (.472, 42nd NCAA) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.359, 78th NCAA). On Sunday, they shot 41.7 percent from the field, made 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) from behind the arc and hit 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) free throws.