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Florida wears down in second half, falls at Tennessee

The Gators lead by a dozen in the first half but can’t hold on in their third game in five days.
Tennessee's Kennedy Chandler, left, and Florida's Anthony Duruji race for a loose ball in the first half Wednesday.
Tennessee's Kennedy Chandler, left, and Florida's Anthony Duruji race for a loose ball in the first half Wednesday. [ WADE PAYNE | AP ]
Published Jan. 27

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Santiago Vescovi scored 23 points, and No. 18 Tennessee rallied from a 12-point deficit to beat Florida 78-71 Wednesday night.

Vescovi connected on 5 of 8 3-pointers. Kennedy Chandler added 17 points, Zakai Zeigler had 11 and Josiah-Jordan James scored all nine of his points in the second half for the Volunteers (14-5, 5-3 SEC).

The Gators (12-8, 3-5), playing their third game in five days, were led by Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby with 16 points each. Phlandrous Fleming scored 11 points, and Myreon Jones added 10.

Florida had a 15-0 run in the first half when Tennessee went more than six minutes without scoring. The Gators twice led by a dozen before Tennessee closed within 42-34 at halftime. The Vols had 12 turnovers in the first half but had just three in the second half.

The Gators maintained the lead until James’ 3-pointer tied it at 55 with 9:32 remaining.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators played at Ole Miss on Monday to make up a game postponed by COVID-19. Wednesday’s game was their third in five days in three cities. Florida has been without its leading scorer and rebounder, Colin Castleton, during the grueling stretch. The 6-foot-11 player suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Jan. 18.

Tennessee: The Vols are unbeaten in 11 games at home this season and have a 12-game winning streak dating back to last season. ... UT is averaging 16,789 in attendance, fifth in the country. ... Chandler’s 2.29 steals per game ranks second among true freshmen nationally, and he’s third among freshmen in assists at 4.9 per game. ... Vols athletic director Danny White is the younger brother of Florida coach Mike White.

UP NEXT

Florida: Hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Tennessee: At Texas on Saturday. Volunteers coach Rick Barnes won 402 games in 17 seasons with the Longhorns.

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By AL LESAR

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