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February 22, 2006

Tennessee clinches SEC East

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Another turnover, another layup, another loss for Florida.

Dane Bradshaw's layup with 15 seconds to play gave No. 10 Tennessee the lead and the Volunteers went on to a 76-72 victory over the 12th-ranked Gators on Wednesday night.

Bradshaw had a similar closing-minute layup in Tennessee last month that handed Florida its first loss of the season after a 17-0 start.

Much like in the first meeting, the Gators (22-5, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) had a shot to win it, but Corey Brewer's turnover helped Tennessee (20-4, 11-2) pull out another one.

Brewer's inbounds pass with 18 seconds remaining was errant. Bradshaw picked it up, spun around Taurean Green near the free throw line and scored the game-winning basket.

Brewer missed a 3-pointer on the other end with about 3 seconds to play, then the Gators fouled Chris Lofton. He calmy made both, putting the Vols ahead 76-72.

Brewer also had the costly turnover in Knoxville. He was driving for the game-winner, but Lofton stole it and Bradshaw scored on the other end to start a wild celebration.

This one was much more subdued - but only because it came on the road.

Guards Lofton (16), Bradshaw (15), and C.J. Watson (13) combined to score 44 points on 16-of-34 shooting for Tennessee, which was 11-of-21 from 3-point range.

Joakim Noah led the Gators with 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks before getting a tooth knocked out with about 2 minutes to play. He left the floor bleeding.

Brewer had 17 points, but was 2-of-6 from 3-point range and had six turnovers.

Tennessee clinched the Eastern Division's No. 1 seed in next month's SEC tournament and secured its first series sweep of Florida since 2000.

The Vols led 69-66 with 1:28 to play before Brewer tied the game with a 3-pointer. But JaJuan Smith answered seconds later. Brewer then missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Al Horford got the rebound, handed it to Lee Humphrey, who hit his only 3-pointer of the night for the final tie.

The Vols fumbled away the ball with about 19 seconds to play, giving Florida its shot. But Brewer inexplicably threw the inbounds pass away, and Bradshaw stole it.

Florida led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but the Volunteers closed the period with a 13-4 run behind Lofton's shooting.

He hit tough 3s on consecutive possessions, then added another with about a minute to play.

The Volunteers carried the momentum into the second half and led 59-52, but Florida chipped away at the lead.

Tennessee, though, hit two huge 3-pointers that prevented the Gators from moving back in front.

Watson hit a falling-down shot from behind the line with less than 4 minutes to play, then Smith's came with 1:30 remaining.

For more coverage of the Florida Gators, check out GatorBet.net.
For more coverage of the Tennessee Volunteers, check out VolQuest.com.

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