Vols Will Try Again For 20th Win as They Host Florida

(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With the regular season nearing its end, No. 19 Tennessee is set to face the Florida Gators in a huge matchup on Wednesday night. The game tips at 9 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN2 and streamed online via WatchESPN.
The Volunteers (19-7, 9-5 SEC) have just four games left and each one is equally as important when it comes to a top-four seeding for the SEC Tournament in two weeks. UT currently sits in second place, one game ahead of a four-way tie for third place, including the Gators. While its toughest games are out of the way, the league is as deep as it has ever been, so Tennessee will have its hands full down the final stretch to secure the valauble double-bye.

Head coach Rick Barnes has challenged Grant Williams to step up when it matters most. The sophomore forward is UT’s leading scorer on the season with 15.7 ppg and is also averaging 5.9 rpg, 1.8 apg and 1.4 spg. Junior Admiral Schofield is another player that the Vols will need to rely on for both ends of the floor. Schofield leads the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (29) and is second in scoring (12.2 ppg).

Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC) boasts wins away from home against Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Missouri, Stanford and Texas A&M this year. Junior guard Jalen Hudson is the Gators’ top scorer, averaging 14.9 ppg on 45 percent shooting to go along with 4.1 rpg. Florida picked up a huge addition in the offseason with graduate transfer Egor Koulechov from Rice. He’s the only player to start all 27 games for UF this season and is posting 14.2 ppg and a team-leading 6.9 rpg. The Gators enter Wednesday’s contest on a two-game skid, most recently falling at Vanderbilt, 71-68, on Saturday.

After Wednesday’s matchup, UT has back-to-back road games against Ole Miss (Feb. 24) and Mississippi State (Feb. 27) before returning home for a rematch with Georgia to conclude the regular season. Saturday’s game in Oxford will tip at 1 p.m. ET and will be televised on SEC Network.

THE SERIES
• Overall: UT leads, 73-57
• In Knoxville: UT leads, 45-18
• In Gainesville: UF leads, 35-25
• Neutral Sites: UF leads, 4-3
• Current Streak: UF has won one
• Last Meeting: Florida won, 83-70, in Gainesville, 1/7/2017
• Rick Barnes vs. Florida: 1-1
• Rick Barnes vs. Mike White: Tied, 1-1

RIGHT NOW
• The Vols are rated No. 15 in the NCAA RPI. Florida is No. 63.
• Jordan Bone has 31 assists against only three turnovers over UT’s last six games. His 2.94 assist/turnover ratio on the year ranks 17th in Division I.
• Per KenPom, Tennessee rates ninth nationally in defensive efficiency.
• Tennessee ranks 31st nationally with 4.8 blocked shots per game.
• Tennessee ranks ninth nationally in average home attendance, having drawn 15,761 fans through 13 home games at Thompson-Boling Arena. Arkansas ranks just ahead of Tennessee with an average home attendance of 16,085.

A WIN WOULD…
• Enable Tennessee to avoid its first losing streak since the first two games of SEC play (Jan. 2-6).
• Give Tennessee its 25th 20-win season and its first since 2013-14, when the Vols finished with 24 victories and advanced to their seventh Sweet Sixteen.
• Give Tennessee 20 regular-season victories for the first time since 2009-10 (23).

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

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