- Jordan McRae continued his torrid stretch with 27 points in leading Tennessee to a 64-58 victory over No. 8 Florida in front of an electric crowd of 19,567 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee won its sixth game in a row for its longest win streak in SEC games since 2008, when UT won eight straight conference games.
The Vols are now 17-10 overall and 9-6 in the SEC, making a late surge for a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament. Tennessee is in sole possession of fifth place, one-half game behind Ole Miss (9-5 SEC).
Florida, the first-place team in the SEC, falls to 22-5 overall and 12-3 in the league. Mike Rosario led the Gators in scoring with 16. Patric Young chipped in 15.
Cuonzo Martin moved to 3-0 all-time against Billy Donovan, winning all three games at Tennessee and all over ranked Florida teams. Last season, UT knocked off the Gators when they were ranked 13th and 8th.
Tennessee's defense, held the Gators to their fewest points of the season, equalling the 58 they scored against Savannah State. The Vols also held the Gators their lowest output last season, in UT's 67-56 win on Jan. 7, 2012.
McRae carried the Vols on his back for the second straight home victory on the heels of a career-high 34 vs. LSU last week. McRae is averaging 20.0 over the Vols six-game win streak.
Jarnell Stokes had a tough night offensively, but his last field goal was perhaps the biggest of the game as a finished a 3-point play with 54.5 seconds left and put the Vols ahead by three possessions, 61-54. Stokes also grabbed a a game-high 14 rebounds.
Florida tried to make a last-minute charge, but a drawn charge by Tennessee's Josh Richardson on the Gators' Rosario with 28.3 seconds left gave the Vols the ball. Trae Golden made a free throw seconds later to give the Vols a 62-56 lead.
McRae finished the game with two free throws with 11.7 left and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The Vols used clutch shooting in the second half and played solid defense in limiting the Gators. McRae was the star all night, but the Vols got contributions from various sources as nine different players scored. In the second half, Golden's 3-pointer with 7:43 left in regulation put the Vols ahead 56-48.
Kenny Hall, who played only four minutes in the first half, entered with six minutes left in the first half and immediately gave the Vols a lead of six, 43-37, on a slam dunk with 13:44 left in the game.
Florida shot just 37.9 from the floor in the second half including 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
Tennessee outrebounded Florida, 41-31.
Tennessee led 35-32 at intermission behind a monster first half from McRae, who had 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. UT scored the final seven points of the first half to take their first lead since 2-0.
The Vols fought from behind for virtually the entire first half and finally were able to take the lead with a 1:46 left in the first half on a Skylar McBee 3-pointer from the corner. That put UT ahead 34-32. It came on the heels of McRae's 3-pointer with 2:28 left in the half brought the Vols within one.
Florida jumped out to a 9-2 lead scoring nine in a row after McRae opened the scoring with a fastbreak slam dunk.
The Vols beat a ranked Florida team in both meetings last season, winning 67-56 in Knoxville and 75-70 in Gainesville. This season was the first since 1964 that the teams will not play a home-and-home.
The Vols head on the road to face Georgia on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. That game airs on the SEC Network and can be heard on the Vol Network. Tennessee hosts its regular-season home finale on March 9 vs. Missouri after a road game at Auburn on March 6.
Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
"Great crowd tonight, great energy. From the start of the game and the National Anthem, I thought the energy was great from the crowd so we appreciate that. We beat a very talented team, a team with a lot of parts, one of the best offensive teams, probably the best we've face all year with the movement, the activity, when you have multiple guys that can dribble the ball, make shots, make plays, you got a big guy that dives and does a good job around the rim. I thought our guys did a good job with not a lot of walk through time, physical contact at practice to go over a lot of those things. I thought we did a great job, probably our best job all season, as far as communicating on both ends of the floor so hats off to those guys. Jordan McRae did a good job of scoring the ball, being aggressive, carrying out those assignments, we felt like there was opportunity to score offensively and he did a great job of working the game, and playing to get open looks. Jarnell (Stokes) did another good job of attacking the glass, getting big rebounds, especially late, keeping balls alive. Even though Trae didn't score a lot, I thought he did a good job of running the team, and defending. He guarded Kenny Boynton the whole night so I thought he did a really good job. That's just the growth of Trae Golden, because in the past if he wasn't scoring I don't think he would have been effective, but the way he played defensively, he was locked in and still ran the team so credit to Trae Golden. Once again, a big win for our guys."
(On playing with Jarnell Stokes out of the game)
"What happens is when Kenny (Hall) and Yemi (Makanjuola) come in, those guys are good defenders. They're not the scorers that Jarnell is but they really defend, they shut those ball screens down, they carry out great assignments, so you don't lose anything there. Offensively we had good spacing because those guys were constantly moving so it didn't hurt us from that standpoint because we still had good spacing and with those guys you need to have spacing for your offense to be effective and I thought our guys did a good job of moving."
(On guarding the three point line)
"For us, the game plan to beat a team like that, with the parts they have on the perimeter and Patrick Young, they have to beat us with twos. Now you give up a lob and you give up a little bit but you've got to keep those guys off the three point line because that's where they make their money knocking those three points down and dribble penetrating so they might get a couple layups, they dribble penetrate a couple times, got to the rim. We'll take a couple of those as long as we keep them off the backside and getting those threes."
(On adjustments made)
"We just stepped up really. Just settled down more than anything and stepped up. We didn't make any adjustments really, because we felt like the game plan had to work, but you have to try it to make sure it works. Once those guys settled down everything worked out."
(On getting a meaningful win)
"It's just a big win. You beat a talented team. Billy does a tremendous job coaching his guys. 17 years and been at a high level, consistent talent, one of the better offensive coaches in the game, probably one of the best defensive teams in the country. You beat a really talented opponent but I mean you should compete against teams in your league but they're a great team, a big win for our guys, but you have to be able to compete against teams in your league, why are you in the league if you can't?"
(On Jordan McRae's first half importance)
"In Jordan's case we felt like we had a couple of sets where we felt we had an opportunity to score and he did a great job of carrying out those assignments. Really for us, it's settling down more than anything. They had the offense flowing, they were getting the ball from one side of the floor to the other and with that caliber of offense and those weapons you can't allow those guys to move the ball as freely as they were moving it in the first half so we just kind shut that down and really accepted the challenge, making them extend their offense and we were a little bit better."
(On what this win over Florida does for UT's tournament resume)
"We need to celebrate this win tonight and then do everything in our power to beat a talented Georgia team. That is just the way it is. I cannot go any farther than that because you just do not know. When you look at this team and you say is this one of the 68 teams? Without a doubt, but you have to do your job. For us I say we have to keep it out of someone else's hands. Lets control the situation."
(On as a team finally making the game-winning plays at the end)
"Confidence is the biggest key. We have not changed the team, we have not brought in any new guys. We could not make a shot early in the season, and now you make shots. Jordan McRae was not playing the way he is playing right now. Trae Golden was not playing the way he is now. You regroup and you figure out ways to win games. The thing I consistently told our guys when we were struggling was that these are all things we can correct. When you have control of a situation and you have an opportunity to correct (mistakes) then you have a chance. It was a matter of those guys not giving up and truly believing what I was saying. You now see the results."
(On Jarnell Stoke's rebound in the last two minutes of the game)
"He has made that commitment to get big rebounds. He is a physical guy. He takes pride in rebounding and you see the results."
(On the team's fatigue in the final minutes of the game)
"For us, offensively, Florida is a good defensive team, they know our plays, we know theirs, you are not going to get wide open looks. You are going to get tough shots, those guys are going to make you make plays. That is what happens when you play against the best. Guys have to make plays. That is what it came down to. We made enough plays to win the game. We got enough stops to win the game. Both teams came out sound on both ends of the floor. There were not a lot of looks in transition either way. We just made enough plays to win the game."
(On the tough defensive stops UT has had in the past several games)
"I think guys are just playing the way they are capable of playing. I think Jarnell Stokes, Trae Golden, Jordan McRae, those guys are playing the way they are capable of playing. When guys are playing the way they are capable of playing, then you see the results. If they do not play at the level they are supposed to play at then that is the team you saw earlier in the season."
(On the team's ball handling)
"It is just taking pride in taking care of the basketball. Having spacing, being confident with the ball, not being nervous or hesitant, taking and accepting the pressure and the way teams are pressuring, and I have said this all season long, when teams press you, get across the top and attack the rim. Be aggressive. You cannot allow teams to press you. You have got to get to the rim. That is the best way to loosen up the press in my mind."
(On Jordan McRae's play)
"I think he is one of the best scores in the conference. I do not look at those numbers but you saw what happened tonight, but he is a guy who knows how to score. The growth of Jordan McRae as he is scoring, is he is taking good shots. Scorers take questionable shots. When you look at those shots last year and earlier in the season, when he takes good shots his shoulders are square, his followthrough is there, he can put it off the glass. He is taking better shots. He is a scorer and is one of the better guys in the league when you are talking about putting the ball in the basket."
Junior G Jordan McRae
(On crowd noise)
"It was definitely loud. He was calling plays and we couldn't hear anything ourselves. That's the kind of atmosphere you love to play in."
(On after the game)
"Anytime you have a team like Florida, highly ranked, probably looking to be a No. 1 seed in the tournament, I mean playing a team like that is fun. Just being up 4-5 with two minutes left, those are the hardest two minutes of basketball right there."
(On defensive playing)
"I think it definitely helped us because we're playing four guards. We were switching a lot of stuff. We knew Florida did really like to get on the line and shoot threes and I think we did a good job of that."
(On the NCAA tournament)
"We have Georgia on Saturday, so we're going to worry about that right now."
(On what this win means)
"It just proves that we're a good team and that we can beat a quality opponent, like Florida. Florida is probably, obviously one of the best teams in the country, ranked top ten, so it's a big win for us, a statement win."
(On playing without Jarnell Stokes)
"I mean it was big for us. Yemi [Makanjuola] and Kenny [Hall] came in, were ready. We used five guards at times, I feel like everybody on the bench."
(On Skylar McBee)
"I mean, we know what Skylar can do. He started for us half the year, half the year last year. There's no secret of what he can do. With just him coming off the bench with the same intensity and help us on the defense like he did, it is big."
(On crowd energy)
"I mean anytime you're playing in a gym and it's real loud and you really can't hear each other, it's hard to communicate things, especially being on the road, you have to really talk because it's just you all. I think it bothered them a little bit."
Sophomore F Jarnell Stokes
(On Patric Young)
I mean I just want to play every game the same way. Young is definitely a stronger guy than most guys I go up against. I think that sort of limited my scoring a bit. I think they did a good job double teaming. I mean guys hit shots, so my thing today was just rebounding and I think I did my role."
(On personal play)
"He tells us all the time, don't worry about your scoring. If you're not scoring the ball, rebound, play hard, play defense. He preaches defense. I did a good job of that today. I wish they wouldn't have called some of those fouls, but it's just part of the game. Yemi did a great job of coming in, rebounding and defending for me."
(On the and 1)
"Yes. I sort of just put it up there. I knew I was going to get fouled. I just put it up there. I don't know, genetics. I feel like that pretty much sealed the deal."
(On staying in the game mentally)
"I mean I've been going through that all season, sort of foul trouble. It's been one of my hardest things this year, that and getting double teamed, so I think I'm pretty much prepared."
(On crowd noise)
"Yes, I think the crowd was definitely loud tonight. They came out, they really wanted us to win. Vols probably have one of the best fan bases in the country."
(On Patric Young)
"I feel like I did a pretty good job. I think in the first half, I was banging with him so much, that's where I got some of my fouls."
Junior G Trae Golden
(On the impact from the fans)
"The fans were great for us. We really fed off of them. It was a great crowd tonight."
(On the strategies to beat a top-5 team)
"We kept reminding ourselves that this is a top 5 team. They have a great defense. We just had to make sure we stayed the course. That is a great team and we just tried to make sure we could hold them down."
(On Jordan McRae's impact for the victory)
"It is huge. I had a big test with Kenny Boynton. He kind of got going so I went up to him and said take off, that is a great defensive team down in the ball screen so I wasn't really able to come off of it. He got going so Jarnell (Stokes) and I looked to him. Jarnell also cleaned up some of his misses. We all kind of played complimentary rolls to Jordan and rolled it out to the win."
(On which number is most important, Jordan McRae's 27 points or Jarnell Stokes's 14 rebounds)
"That is tough to say without either it would be really tough. Without those 14 rebounds then we would have had limited possessions so that is a lot of second chance, but without Jordan's 27 points I don't know where we would have been. I give a lot of credit to Jordan because Florida's defense was smothering him. He did a great job."
(On the importance of this win to get the team into NCAA tournament talk)
"I might be the wrong guy to ask. Hopefully it does. Anytime you beat a number five team in the country, I think that is a big win. So this was big for us."
(On coming back like at the end of the season last year)
"Every game is crucial. You have to treat every game like it is your last game. You never know, so last year I think it really helped us to see the bigger picture."
(On the enjoyment of celebrating the past few wins)
"It is always fun when you are winning. So it has been really fun. We can't lose sight of everything. I think it is a big win but we have to make sure we are ready for Saturday. We couldn't hang our hats on the Kentucky win, we had to move on. So we can't hang our hats on this win. We just have to move on to Saturday."
Head Coach Billy Donovan
(On guarding Jarnell Stokes)
"I actually thought we did a really good job on him defensively, we guarded him very, very well. I thought the difference in the game was the rebounding part of it. We had a couple of times that we had some guys around him and he's a obviously a big strong guy. I've made this comment before, the best part of his game in my opinion is that he has great hands. We you have that kind of body, when the ball gets in his hands he grabs it, and I think that's his greatest strength. He doesn't have great lift around the basket, he struggles to score when there aren't a lot of angles, but when the ball is loose and he gets his hands on it, that's what he does best."
(On the talent level of Tennessee)
"I think they're really talented. I made the comment at SEC Media Day that I thought they should be the favorite to win the league. I don't think there should be any question that they have unbelievable talent. Golden is as good of a point guard as there is, McRae has emerged to be, to me, maybe the best wing player in the league, Stokes is clearly one of the best front court players. They have depth, Richardson, some other young guys. They're a very, very talented team. I know Maymon is out and that's a big loss for them."
(On what they could have done to better defend Tennessee)
"The only thing I thought we could have done better is that I thought we gave up one or two threes to him out of the press, which I thought hurt us a little bit. Then, I think there were one or two plays where there were screens and we were late getting there. He made some tough shots, but he's a good player. Overall, I think we guarded them very, very well. The difference in the game was the rebounding, the offensive rebounding, and then our inability to make a shot. We were 1-10 from the three point line in the second half."
(On Florida's shot selection down the stretch)
"He (Boynton) had a wide-open look, Murphy had a good look. I thought there were some ill-advised shots by Rosario. I thought there was one play, it was a momentum play where the shot clock was winding down and you've got to drive the ball to the basket. I don't know how many times I have to tell these guys that we have to drive the ball, and they insist on taking these shots and it gets blocked and there's nobody back in transition."
(On going to the zone defense in the second half)
"I just tried to break momentum a little bit because I thought we had couple of plays were we didn't get stops, three or four plays in a row. I thought the zone really helped us because we got some misses and got on the break and cut into the lead a little bit. When we put Prather at the small forward spot, I thought we were a little better defensively on the wing, we had a bigger guy to be able to guard McRae."
(On if Tennessee is an NCAA Tournament team)
"I don't know their resume altogether. I think teams get labeled in November and December and unfortunately, those labels stick with you throughout the entire year. I think that playing against them, they were my pick to win the league, so I clearly felt they were a tournament team before the season. Their resume and their strength of schedule and all those things, I don't know how all those play out."
Official Basketball Box Score
Florida vs Tennessee
02/26/13 9:00 p.m. at Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)
VISITORS: Florida 22-5, 12-3 SEC
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
33 Murphy, Erik........ f 3-10 1-5 0-0 1 5 6 5 7 0 0 0 0 33
04 Young, Patric....... c 6-10 0-0 3-6 3 2 5 2 15 0 1 1 0 29
01 Boynton, Kenny...... g 1-7 0-4 0-0 0 3 3 2 2 1 2 0 0 37
03 Rosario, Mike....... g 5-14 3-7 3-4 2 2 4 2 16 2 2 0 2 35
05 Wilbekin, Scottie... g 4-9 0-1 0-0 0 8 8 4 8 6 1 0 2 39
11 Ogbueze, Braxton.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 7
24 Prather, Casey...... 5-7 0-0 0-1 1 1 2 1 10 1 1 0 0 17
25 Walker, DeVon....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
TEAM................ 1 1 2
Totals.............. 24-57 4-17 6-11 8 23 31 17 58 11 7 1 5 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4% 2nd Half: 11-29 37.9% Game: 42.1% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-7 42.9% 2nd Half: 1-10 10.0% Game: 23.5% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 3-6 50.0% 2nd Half: 3-5 60.0% Game: 54.5% 2
HOME TEAM: Tennessee 17-10, 9-6 SEC
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
05 Stokes,Jarnell...... f 3-8 0-0 2-5 6 8 14 3 8 2 2 1 0 24
01 Richardson,Josh..... g 3-7 0-1 1-2 0 4 4 1 7 3 0 1 1 37
04 Moore,Armani........ g 0-2 0-1 0-0 2 1 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 11
11 Golden,Trae......... g 3-10 1-4 1-2 0 0 0 2 8 2 2 0 1 34
52 McRae,Jordan........ g 9-20 3-9 6-8 2 5 7 2 27 4 3 2 2 39
00 Makanjuola,Yemi..... 0-1 0-0 1-2 3 2 5 1 1 1 1 0 0 5
13 McBee,Skylar........ 2-4 1-3 0-0 0 2 2 0 5 0 0 0 0 30
20 Hall,Kenny.......... 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 0 0 9
24 Lopez,Brandon....... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 3
31 Chievous,Quinton.... 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 2 1 0 0 0 8
TEAM................ 1 1
Totals.............. 24-57 5-18 11-19 13 28 41 13 64 14 9 4 4 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-34 44.1% 2nd Half: 9-23 39.1% Game: 42.1% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-11 36.4% 2nd Half: 1-7 14.3% Game: 27.8% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 1-5 20.0% 2nd Half: 10-14 71.4% Game: 57.9% 5
Officials: Antinio Petty, John Cahill, Michael Stephens
Technical fouls: Florida-None. Tennessee-None.
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Florida....................... 32 26 - 58
Tennessee..................... 35 29 - 64
Points in the paint-UF 34,UT 30. Points off turnovers-UF 6,UT 13.
2nd chance points-UF 12,UT 9. Fast break points-UF 5,UT 6.
Bench points-UF 10,UT 14. Score tied-3 times. Lead changed-4 times.
Last FG-UF 2nd-00:06, UT 2nd-00:55.
Largest lead-UF by 7 1st-15:25, UT by 8 2nd-07:43.Official Basketball Box Score
Florida vs Tennessee
02/26/13 9:00 p.m. at Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena)