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January 25, 2014

Instant Analysis: Gators dominate Volunteers



The No. 6 Gators (17-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) haven't had an opportunity for a truly newsworthy win in a while, but they got the opportunity Saturday and took complete advantage. Florida defeated Tennessee (12-7, 3-3 SEC) 67-41 in a rare chance to bolster its resume in SEC play. Instant Analysis takes a look.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: The Gators came out of the locker room for the second half and promptly took to icing what was expected to be a tight conference rivalry matchup. Florida opened the second half on a 18-5 run that built a 20-point lead the Gators would maintain for the better part of the game.

HE STOLE THE SHOW: Scottie Wilbekin was given a major defensive challenge. Guard Jordan McRae, Tennessee's star guard who is No. 2 in the SEC in scoring and has five inches on Wilbekin. It's safe to say he did his job. McRae went 1 of 15 from the field and finished with five points. Wilbekin wasn't too bad at the offensive end either. He notched 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting. Only Michael Frazier II had more at 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting.

THE STAT DOESN'T LIE: What Thursday-Saturday hangover? Florida was as energized and intense defensively as it has been all season, avoiding any trace of the lapses that have allowed for opposing runs at times. The Gators made the Volunteers look putrid offensively all day. Tennessee shot 24.1 percent from the field and went 1 of 19 from the 3-point line. Players not named Jarnell Stokes - 6 of 9 - shot 16.2 percent.

WHAT A PLAY: A certain Frazier-to-Patric Young one-handed alley-oop deserves honorary recognition - along with Young's 10-point, five-rebound performance - but nothing lit up the O'Connell Center like a hustle play from Dorian Finney-Smith on a rebound-save combo. Finney-Smith dished the ball back to Frazier who, after a missed Will Yeguete layup, hit a big-time 3-pointer that electrified a sold-out crowd.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cuonzo Martin spent his afternoon yelling, pacing and, ultimately, dejected on the Tennessee bench. In his time as the Volunteers' coach, he has owned the Gators - putting together a 3-0 mark heading into Saturday's game. Florida is a different team this season. The Gators have the depth up front to combat the physicality of Stokes and Jeronne Maymon and strong enough guard play to attack the Volunteers' weakest area. Billy Donovan is now 17-18 al- time against Tennessee. Florida stretches its winning streak to 11 games and its school-record home winning streak to 26.

UP NEXT: Florida heads to Mississippi State for a Thursday night meeting with the Bulldogs at 7 on ESPN2.


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