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Gators fend off Vols, run win streak to 16
Knoxville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Scottie Wilbekin scored 21 points, including a big 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes to play, as No. 3 Florida took a tough 67-58 win over Tennessee on Tuesday.
Michael Frazier II scored 11 points and Casey Prather gave nine points with eight rebounds for the Gators (22-2, 11-0 SEC), who have won 16 in a row since a loss at Connecticut on Dec. 2.
Jarnell Stokes had 20 points and 11 boards and Jordan McRae gave 17 points for the Volunteers (15-9, 6-5), who were coming off a home win against South Carolina on Saturday. Josh Richardson had 13 points.
"It's tough. I thought it was a tremendous environment," said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin. "The fans were great but it's tough. We felt like we were ready to win the game. We felt like we did everything to prepare to win the game."
Stokes was fouled as he put in a tough hook shot with 4:32 to play and made the free throw to cut Tennessee's deficit to 55-54. Wilbekin then had a bucket blocked, but Frazier stole the ball from Jeronne Maymon and drained a three for a four-point advantage.
After Stokes missed a bucket, Wilbekin followed that with another long three for a 61-54 advantage with 2:27 left.
Stokes then hit 1-of-2 from the foul line to cut the lead back to seven, and Wilbekin missed a jumper, but Patric Young grabbed the offensive board and missed a layup of his own. However, he again came down with the rebound as Florida was able to kill off over a minute of the clock before Wilbekin completed the offensive series with a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.
"It was an incredible play, I thought, by him," said Florida head coach Billy Donovan about Young. "He sold out, two guys were in front of him and he ran past and made an incredible save to come up with the loose basketball and they had to foul. It was an incredible play by him just effort-wise with four fouls."
Florida came out the gates with a 10-2 run capped on Wilbekin's layup just over four minutes in, and held a 22-16 lead after a Will Yeguete 3-pointer halfway through the opening frame.
Tennessee, though, countered with a 16-4 burst and held a 32-26 lead after an Antonio Barton jumper with under four minutes to play.
Florida closed the half with a 7-2 run and trailed 34-33 as Wilbekin put in a jumper at the buzzer.
The Gators opened the second half with a 9-2 run as Wilbekin hit a pair of free throws just over two minutes in for a 42-36 lead, and the team never trailed from there.
Tennessee plays at Missouri on Saturday ... Florida plays at Kentucky on Saturday ... Florida won in Knoxville for the first time since 2011, but still trails in the series, 72-54 ... Florida grabbed 39 rebounds to 32 for Tennessee ... Tennessee made 45.8 percent of its shots, compared to 36.2 percent shooting for Florida ... Florida scored 19 points off 15 Tennessee turnovers.
02/11 23:44:55 ET
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