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(Saturday, March 15th)
Final Score: (1) Florida 56, Tennessee 49
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Patric Young had 16 points, Scottie Wilbekin scored 14 and top-ranked Florida came back to beat Tennessee 56-49 on Saturday to advance to the final of the SEC Tournament.
Casey Prather added 12 points for Florida (31-2), which stretched its school- record winning streak to 25 games but not without another poor start.
Wilbekin's 3-pointer at the end of the first half cut a 10-point deficit to 35-28. The Gators then outscored the Volunteers 28-14 in the second half to set up a meeting with rival Kentucky in Sunday's final.
On Friday, Florida was tied with Missouri at halftime before outscoring the Tigers 43-20 the rest of the way.
Jordan McRae scored 15 points to lead the fourth-seeded Volunteers (21-12), who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Jarnell Stokes added 13 points in the loss and Jeronne Maymon had 10.
McRae's 3-pointer with 2:48 remaining was Tennessee's only field goal in the last 12:15 of the game.
"We just tried to play harder," said Wilbekin. "We were doing the same things. We didn't really switch up anything. We just tried to go into an extra gear and turn it up a little bit."
Tennessee never led after Michael Frazier II hit a 3-pointer to give Florida a 45-43 lead with under nine minutes to play, ending a 7-0 Gators run.
The Gators hung on down the stretch, taking a 53-49 lead with 1:21 left when Prather made both free throws after Tennessee's Antonio Barton grabbed him around the waist to prevent a fast-break layup, drawing a Flagrant-1 foul.
Florida got the ball back, but play was stopped for several minutes after Barton went to the floor on a Wilbekin elbow to the face. Officials looked to see if Wilbekin's elbow made contact as he swung it to gain position near the 3-point line -- it grazed Barton's face.
Tennessee got possession, but didn't score, and Wilbekin's free throw with 14 seconds remaining made it a two-possession game.
"We feel like we came into the game ready to win," said Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin. "We just came up short. (We are) the two best defensive teams in the league, and they made the plays down the stretch."
Florida, the first team to go unbeaten in an 18-game SEC season, has now won all 20 of its games against conference opponents this season. Its last loss came Dec. 2 at Connecticut.
The Gators held the Volunteers to 25 percent shooting in the second half.
Tennessee used a 10-3 run in the first half to take a 21-14 lead. McRae had 10 points in the half to lead Tennessee and Wilbekin scored 13 for Florida.
Florida lost to Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss in last year's SEC final ... The Gators were out-rebounded 30-24 ... Maymon had a game-high nine rebounds ... Florida shot 47.7 percent and the Volunteers shot 41.3 percent.
03/15 18:03:38 ET
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