Billy Donovan's Gators headed into this week with a seven-game win streak and a measuring stick on the docket with Tuesday's road game at top-ranked Kentucky. Unfortunately for Florida, it didn't quite measure up in a 78-58 loss to the Wildcats. Still, at 7-2 in conference play, the Gators are one of a few teams still within striking distance of Kentucky in the standings.
Cuonzo Martin's first season in Knoxville has certainly come with its ups and downs thus far. The team is an even 12-12 overall and one game under .500 in league play at 4-5. The real problem has come on the road, where Tennessee is still winless at 0-7. The Vols do enter this contest with a minor two-game win streak in tow, topping Georgia (73-62) and most recently South Carolina (69-57) at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Volunteers hold a 70-52 advantage in the all-time series. Florida had won four straight over Tennessee coming into this season, but it is the Volunteers seeking the regular-season sweep after opening SEC play with a 67-56 win over the Gators in Knoxville on January 7th.
The Volunteers have struggled with offensive consistency this season, as the numbers, like their overall record, are bland at best. Tennessee comes into this contest averaging a modest 68.6 ppg, doing so on .440 shooting. Guard Trae Golden is the team leader in the scoring column, but his 13.0 ppg isn't exactly the kind of numbers that scare many opponents. He also doubles as the team's primary distributor, doling out 4.6 apg. Jeronne Maymon (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has provided a presence in the paint and the recent addition of freshman Jarnell Stokes (8.9 ppg. 7.9 rpg) to the lineup has certainly helped take some of the low post burden off of Maymon's shoulders. However, Stokes is currently sidelined with a wrist injury.
Junior Skylar McBee made his presence felt in the team's 12-point win over South Carolina this week, as he hit four three-pointers en route to a career- high 18 points. Golden poured in 14 points in support, while Maymon added 12. Kenny Hall scored just four points in the win, but did grab 10 rebounds and block three shots. The Vols shot an impressive 50 percent from the floor, including 10-of-20 from beyond the arc, while holding South Carolina to a mere 33.9 percent effort.
Tennessee will be hard-pressed to match Florida's offensive firepower, especially after a poor showing in Lexington this week. The team managed a mere 58 points in the loss to the Wildcats, well below its current season averaging of 79.2 ppg. The Gators did manage to have three players finish in double figures in the lopsided loss, led by Kenny Boynton's 18 points. Fellow guard Bradley Beal added 14 points, while center Patric Young chipped in with 12.
The scoring output was certainly an anomaly and not the norm, as UF's scoring depth is vast, with all five starters averaging double digits. Boynton is the go-to-guy at the offensive end, averaging a hefty 17.6 ppg, fueled by his .440 accuracy from three-point range (81-of-184). Beal (14.3 ppg) and Erving Walker (12.1 ppg) add to the perimeter assault, with Walker pacing the team with almost five assists per game. Young (10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is the top option up front, with forward Erik Murphy (10.0 ppg) providing a scoring touch both inside and out.