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Gators implode in Knoxville without Tre Mann

PHOTO CREDIT: Florida Athletics
PHOTO CREDIT: Florida Athletics

The shorthanded Gators faced off against Tennessee today, with the final score seeing the Volunteers prevail, 65-54.

After a halfway decent first half for the Gators, it seemed like there was hope for the Gators without Tre Mann, who was out due to a migraine for this matchup.

The first half saw Tyree Appleby leading the charge with nine points, followed by Anthony Duruji, Noah Locke and Colin Castleton all with five points. While they did win the first half, the Gators just couldn’t get it started in the second. The Volunteers forced 16 turnovers to hold the Gators to only 21 second-half points.

"I would say our defensive intensity," Tyree Appleby said when asked what changed. "We didn't keep that up for the whole 40 minutes. I think we did pretty well in the first half for the first 20 minutes, but they came out and punched us in the mouth in the second half. We didn't respond."

Offensive boards dominated the second half today as well, seeing the Vols accumulate 38 total rebounds.

“I mean, what are you going to do? We’ve got to block out every time the shot goes up," said UF's Mike White. "Every team on our schedule probably has the same principles. It might be a different piece of terminology that they use. Blocking out, defending the glass, whatever you want to call it.

"We either have to make sure that the guy that we’re responsible for in that moment doesn’t get the rebound and/or go get the rebound. You do both, its extra credit, but too many times we do neither.”

This loss puts the Gators at the No. 5 seed in the SEC Tournament and Tennessee directly above them at No. 4. The next time we will see both teams in action is for the tournament, beginning March 10 and ending March 14.

The Gators will play either Vanderbilt or Texas A&M on Thursday, March 11th.

"You know, we just need to work on keeping our intensity up and never get too comfortable," said Appleby. "I think we played pretty well in the first half, we just have to do the same things that we do in the first half in the second half to finish out games."

What you need to know

- Florida will be the No. 5 seed in the SEC Tournament, opening action on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern against the winner of Wednesday’s Vanderbilt-Texas A&M game.

- The Gators have not suffered a losing record in league play in any of the past six seasons, the only SEC team and one of 10 power conference teams to do so (Duke, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan, Oregon, Seton Hall, Villanova, Virginia). The Gators went 9-7 in SEC play despite the loss of the preseason SEC Player of the Year, Keyontae Johnson.

- The Gators were also without Tre Mann in Sunday’s game (migraine). Florida played both games this season vs. Tennessee shorthanded, as Colin Castleton and Scottie Lewis both missed the first meeting in Gainesville.

-Tyree led the Gators with 19 points, and Colin Castleton was the only other Gator in double figures at 11.