Vols Facing Florida in SEC Tournament Opener on Friday

(utsports.com) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee basketball team opens its run through the 2021 SEC Tournament with a Friday afternoon quarterfinal matchup with fifth-seeded Florida. Tipoff from Bridgestone Arena is set for approximately 2:30 p.m. ET ESPN.

Fans can see Friday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN on the ESPN App. WatchESPN can also be accessed online at espn.com/watch. Karl Ravech and Jimmy Dykes will have the call.

Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.

Last time out, Tennessee downed this same Florida team, 65-54, on the backs of 14-point outputs from senior John Fulkerson, junior Victor Bailey Jr. and freshman Keon Johnson.

A win on Friday would advance Tennessee to at least the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament for the third consecutive tournament, excluding the canceled 2020 edition.

Up next, the Vols will advance to the semifinals with a victory to take on either top-seeded Alabama or ninth-seeded Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff for that potential contest is slated for 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

THE SERIES
• Tennessee leads the all-time series with Florida, 78-58, dating to 1927.
• The Vols own a 4-4 all-time SEC Tournament record vs. Florida.
• UT has won five of its last six games vs. Florida. Over those six games, neither team has reached 80 points.
• The Vols and Gators have met only once in Nashville, with Tennessee logging an 80-74 overtime win the 1984 SEC Tournament.

A WIN WOULD…
• Make the Vols 10-8 in SEC Tournament games played at Bridgestone Arena.
• Advance Tennessee to at least the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament for the third straight time (excluding the canceled tournament in 2020).
• Give the Vols a 6-4 record in SEC Tournament games under head coach Rick Barnes.

LAYUP LINES
• Tennessee has advanced to the championship game in each of the last two (fully contested) SEC Tournaments.
• The Volunteers last won the SEC Tournament in 1979.
• The Volunteers are 17-9 all-time at Bridgestone Arena, including a 9-8 mark in SEC Tournament games.
• Friday’s game will be Tennessee’s second in 13 days.
• The freshman duo of Johnson and Springer have accounted for 42.8 percent of Tennessee’s scoring over the last eight games.
• During SEC play, Tennessee led the league in turnover margin (+2.6) and assist/turnover ratio (1.1) from start to finish.

DEFENSE WINS
• According to KenPom, the Vols rank fourth in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 87.5 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.
• Tennessee ranks 21st in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 62.7 points per game.
• Only once this season has a Tennessee opponent scored 80 or more points. That was Georgia, in a game the Vols won, 89-81, on Feb. 10.
• The Vols are forcing 15.7 turnovers per game and converting those turnovers into 17.2 points per game.
• Tennessee has forced 18 of 24 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions. The Vols are forcing opponents to turn it over 22.9 percent of the time this season.
• Yves Pons has at least one block in each of UT’s last seven games. Since the start of last season, he has 109 blocks in 54 games.

SEC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
• Tennessee is 69-55 (.556) in 61 all-time previous SEC Tournament appearances.
• The Vols own the third-best SEC Tournament winning percentage among league schools, trailing only Kentucky (.838) and Alabama (.558).
• Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, the Vols are 34-40 (.459).
• Tennessee has won the SEC Tournament four times, tying Florida for third-most among league schools. The Vols won the event in 1936, 1941, 1943 and 1979.
• UT has reached the title game 12 times (third-most among league schools), most recently back-to-back in 2018 (St. Louis) and 2019 (Nashville).
• Tennessee has been the No. 4 seed three times previously (1980, 1990, 2014).
• This is the 12th time Nashville has hosted the SEC Tournament. UT is 13-10 in the tournament when it takes place in “The Music City.”
• Tennessee’s SEC Tournament record at Bridgestone Arena is 9-8.

BARNES IN LEAGUE TOURNEYS
• Rick Barnes is 37-31 (.544) in conference tournament games as a head coach. That includes a 6-4 record with Tennessee.
• He led Providence to the Big East Tournament championship in 1994.
• Barnes guided Tennessee to the SEC Tournament championship game in 2018 and 2019.

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols