The Tennessee Volunteers have played excellent defense all season. But Tuesday, the Florida Gators were the ones who clamped down.
Florida held No. 6 Tennessee to just 29.3 percent shooting in a 75-49 rout in SEC men's basketball action. That defense—and a balanced offensive effort with five players registering at least nine points—was enough for the homestanding Gators to pull off the upset.
Florida registered 11 steals, forced 18 turnovers, bested the Vols on the boards 44-36 and held UT to 28 points below its season average (77.2). Tennessee didn't help its cause, shooting a woeful 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from deep.
Add it all up, and you have the recipe for a surprising blowout.
Omar Payne, FLA: 9 PTS, 9 REB, 5 BLK
Tyree Appleby, FLA: 13 PTS, 7 AST, 4 REB, 3 STL
Tre Mann, FLA: 12 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
Noah Locke, FLA: 14 PTS, 3 REB
John Fulkerson, TEN: 15 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB
Keon Johnson, TEN: 8 PTS, 3 AST
Santiago Vescovi, TEN: 7 PTS, 3 REB, 3 STL
Victor Bailey Jr., TEN: 4 PTS
No Colin Castleton and Scottie Lewis, No Problem
Florida was without its third- and fourth-leading scorers in Colin Castleton and Scottie Lewis, making Tuesday's upset all the more improbable.
The Gators (7-4, 4-3 in SEC) sure didn't miss a beat, though, relying on that fantastic defensive effort to make up for the loss in scoring options. Omar Payne was a one-man wrecking crew with his rim protection, blocking five shots. And Tyree Appleby and Ques Glover notched three steals apiece.
This is the sort of performance that can turn a season around. If this Florida continues to show up, the rest of the SEC will take notice.
Tennessee Has to Brush This One Off
Sometimes, you just stink. And Tennessee flat-out stunk Tuesday.
The Volunteers (10-2, 4-2) remain a threat to win the SEC, however. Putting this blowout behind them will help in that pursuit, especially with a tough matchup against No. 19 Missouri up next.
Tennessee will attempt to rebound at home against Missouri at 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday. Florida will look to make it two wins in a row when it visits Georgia at 2 p.m. ET Saturday.