Vols not intimidated at Florida, 79-75

UT chomps Gators, move into first-place tie in SEC East

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GAINSEVILLE, Fla. — Tyler Smith didn’t need a kick in the pants — he just needed a bump in pregame warm-ups.

According to UT coaches and players, Florida’s Dan Werner went out of his way to bump into Smith while the Vols were in their shoot-around Sunday.

“He was trying to punk me or something,’’ said Smith, who got into an exchange with Werner last year. “Nobody is gonna intimidate me, regardless. When it comes down to it, it’s on.’’

The Vols were on, playing arguably their best basketball of the season in scoring a 79-75 victory over the Gators before a sellout crowd of 12,490 at the O’Connell Center.

UT hit 10 of 19 shots beyond the 3-point arc to improve to 18-10, 9-5 SEC, and snap Florida's (21-8, 8-6) 17-game homecourt win streak. The victory also moved UT into a first-place tie in the Eastern Division with South Carolina (20-7, 9-5), where the Vols play 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Obviously, that was a real special performance,’’ said Vols coach Bruce Pearl, who has won seven of eight against the Gators. “Our backs are against the wall, and our kids really responded.’’

Smith scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and Wayne Chism had 18 points to lead the Vols. Eight UT players scored six points or more.

J.P. Prince’s drive at the 14:42 mark gave the Vols an 11-9 advantage, and UT didn’t trail after that.

“Their crowd really helped us get our energy level up,’’ said Prince, who led Tennessee with five assists. “We saw all those T-shirts they handed out, we knew they hadn’t lost here, and we weren’t gonna let them celebrate on us.’’

Said Pearl: “I think our pride kicked in.’’

UT cruised to a 45-33 halftime lead on Josh Tabb’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Vols led by as many as 16 in the second half when Chism hit a pair of free throws to make it 59-43 with 11:31 left.

The Gators cut the lead back into single digits with a 10-2 run that Nick Calathes (20 points, seven assists) sparked with a 3-pointer.

Diminutive guard Erving Walker heated up late, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the final four minutes, including a baseline drive on Scotty Hopson that pulled Florida within three points with 55 seconds left.

A UT turnover ensued, and the Gators had the ball with a chance to tie for the first time since five minutes into the game.

Florida set up Walker for a 3-point shot attempt in the corner, but the 6-foot-7 Hopson came soaring over for a block.

Chism was fouled and split a pair of free throws with 21.6 seconds left to make it 76-72.

Calathes missed on his drive, and Smith rebounded and was fouled. Smith sank both free throws to make it 78-72 with 16.3 seconds left.

Walker hit an off-balance 3-pointer to pull Florida back within three, but Smith was fouled again with 7.3 seconds left and split his free throws to ice the game.

Different players starred at different times for UT, with Bobby Maze hitting a trey to open the Vols’ scoring en route to scoring all eight of his points in the first half.

“Their crowd was talking a lot, saying stuff about my mother and my hometown,’’ Maze said. “They said Allen Iverson cut his braids, and I didn’t cut mine. That got me fired up.’’

The Vols showed an enthusiasm not often seen from them this season, and it started with Smith before the game.

“I asked Coach before the game started to give me some time to talk to the guys,’’ Smith said. “I wanted to let them know, they don’t have to look for just me. They can do things on their own out there.

“When we play together, you see what can happen.’’

UT associate head coach said Smith’s words and play ignited the team.

“Tyler was still talking to them at the end of the game, telling them ‘We ain’t gonna lose,’ during the last timeouts,’’ Jones said. “Tyler was an unbelievable leader; we’ve just got to get him to open his mouth more often.’’

Notebook: The Vols were delayed in their return to Knoxville on account of their charter flight being grounded in Atlanta by poor weather. Assistant coach Steve Forbes, who had been out recruiting, was on the plane when it was delayed and did not make it to the game.

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Comments » 355

VolJunkie writes:

Great win. The first half was the best half of bb the Vols have put together all year. Need this momentum going into Thursday and a strong finish next Sunday at TBA.

Go Vols!

spvol writes:

How much property tax does Bruce have to pay for owning the O'Connell Center?

LifetimeVolFan98 writes:

Great win!! Let's take it to SC on Wed for sole possession of first place SEC East - right where we were predicted to be. Oh by the way, I can't resist - 1st!!!!!!!!!!!!

mtnbikrtn writes:

Vols tied for FIRST in the east!

trooper4prezz writes:

GREAT GAME GUYS!!!!!! If we can play like we did in the first half: sharing the ball, shooting open shots, and dishing from the post we will be in good shape for the Tourny.

LifetimeVolFan98 writes:

in response to spvol:

How much property tax does Bruce have to pay for owning the O'Connell Center?

None - Eddie Munster pays him to leave every time we kick their butts!

volcycle writes:

This is what happens when you play as a team and not do so much one on one stuff. Great win! Keep it up and you will go far!! Beat the Chickens! (The filter won't let me post their real name.)

1963volfan writes:

Great game guys keep it up and you will win the east thursday.

ArealVolFan writes:

Gotta win at SC. I think we can. We match up well against them, but they are playing great right now. If we can win out and by some miracle win the SEC tourney, we may play our way into being a 5 seed.

BubbaVol writes:

Could someone please teach B. Maze how to play defense without hand checking. They call him on it every game and he's never learned.

yeavols#228407 writes:

Tebow and Urban Myth was at the game..too bad they had to watch their team lose against the VOLS. CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP..Poor Gators...

ctownvol writes:

Good win on the road. Closer than it should've been, but you have to give Florida credit for fighting back. Now let's build on this!

jandjhome#228397 writes:

I read Donovan's lips when he shook hands with BP at end of the game. He said"you got me again daddy"

VolJunkie writes:

in response to General_Watermelon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, I'll drink to any game but I prefer to raise a glass in celebration rather than a bottle in frustration!

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

Gatorzz where are you? I think Bruce has a pinata of "little Ricky" in his office.

ctownvol writes:

in response to General_Watermelon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

General you sound a lot like myself. I'm just lookin' for a reason to have a drink, and this game is reason enough! Cheers.

letshave1more writes:

DCFLORIDA AND GATORZZ REPEAT AFTER ME:

LETSHAVE1MORE is my daddy and we are his bit@@*S!!

VOLinDAWGland writes:

I'm drinkin' with ya General. This team has flaws, but they played hard and for the most part smart in a tough environment.

stayingorange writes:

This game really looked like the Vols have taken a step forward, just wish they could have finished a little stronger. 2 more wins and they take the East and become a much better looking team heading to the dance.

Ironcity writes:

Williams was huge today. He brings a dimension with his passing that we don't get from Chism. I think Williams passing was contagious. I am still not confident we can compete at USC but I wasn't confident today either.

May sound odd but I thought our FT shooting down the stretch was better then normal. Usually we miss both when they are important, today we only would miss one.

TommyJack writes:

Now that was a quality win.

VolJunkie writes:

in response to ArealVolFan:

Gotta win at SC. I think we can. We match up well against them, but they are playing great right now. If we can win out and by some miracle win the SEC tourney, we may play our way into being a 5 seed.

I agree that we can win but we HAVE TO PLAY BETTER PERIMETER DEFENSE. 28 games in and UT seemed to get their offense working in the first half today, hopefully in game 29 they will find their D or that kid Downey will have a career day.

Go Vols!

Down_The_Field writes:

congrats coaches and players.

it was nice to see the team finish it in the end and not let flar-duh steal it.

VOLFROMNC writes:

Very pleased with this win. I hope we can carry this momentum into the post season.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

best overall game this year. sure wish they would quit having those humongous lapses, though. Scotty keeps getting better and Chism had his head in for most of this game.

I wince every time I see Brian with the ball, but he came through with some big plays. Calathes may be a bit overrated.
Play this way against S.C. and it won't be close.

Still project a 6 or 7 seed. unless we win the SEC tourney, then it may go to 4 or 5.

VolJunkie writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Williams was huge today. He brings a dimension with his passing that we don't get from Chism. I think Williams passing was contagious. I am still not confident we can compete at USC but I wasn't confident today either.

May sound odd but I thought our FT shooting down the stretch was better then normal. Usually we miss both when they are important, today we only would miss one.

Totally agree with you. Williams had some of his best minutes today. As to free throws, thank god we were in the double bonus early.

Go Vols!

doctorfingervol writes:

Just a few thoughts:
1. Bruce Pearl owns Billy D.
2. To all the Gator fans on this site that is 7 out of 8 but should have been 8 out of 8 becasue lofton was injured that game we lost.
3. I think little Billy aged another 10 years during the game.
4. Oh Yeah! PEARL OWNS THE GATORS! GO VOLS GREAT WIN!

Ironcity writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You should be happy with UT's win. If we continued to lose you guys would move onto the bubble with that 250th ranked schedule you have played so far.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to jandjhome#228397:

I read Donovan's lips when he shook hands with BP at end of the game. He said"you got me again daddy"

excellent post.

spewed my coffee when i read it.

richvol writes:

Wow...talk about being pleasantly surprised. Brian Williams played a GREAT game. He made some terrific passes for assists,rebounded,played excellent defense and hustled his butt off. That steal from Calathes was particularly gratifying.

That was the best Tennessee has played,in my opinion. They shared the ball,shot extremely well and displayed the kind of effort it takes to win on the road in the SEC. Great job today...let's see you finish it out.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Can't wait till THURSDAY?!

teedub writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Williams was huge today. He brings a dimension with his passing that we don't get from Chism. I think Williams passing was contagious. I am still not confident we can compete at USC but I wasn't confident today either.

May sound odd but I thought our FT shooting down the stretch was better then normal. Usually we miss both when they are important, today we only would miss one.

Glad someone said it - BeeDub was HUGE in this game.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I'll takek the friggin' win....I expected us to lose. the last 2 wins have been HUGE.

Bruce really, REALLY wants 20 wins. He's gotta pull a rabbit out of his arse to beast USC, and he knows it. USC has great guard play, which we do not. Still....

C'mon Bruce, TUG>>>>>>>>>>

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to richvol:

Wow...talk about being pleasantly surprised. Brian Williams played a GREAT game. He made some terrific passes for assists,rebounded,played excellent defense and hustled his butt off. That steal from Calathes was particularly gratifying.

That was the best Tennessee has played,in my opinion. They shared the ball,shot extremely well and displayed the kind of effort it takes to win on the road in the SEC. Great job today...let's see you finish it out.

i thought the same thing when he made that steal and took it to the hoop in the 1st. just shook my head and smiled when he did it.

VolFanNC writes:

Can't believe that they are tied for 1st in the east after their play earlier this year. Maybe that early SOS paid off and the team is starting to gel. Anyone noticed in the few plays that Willaims was in how good he looked going to the backet. Gives me hope for next year too.

dbc5361 writes:

No chance at SC coming off a loss.

berrymuchavol writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

iowavol writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My question as well Butch. But in reality, those redneck idiots are figments of Pennington's imagination and don't exist. Tennessee doesn't have fans that dumb - only KNS reporters.

doctorfingervol writes:

I know South Carolina is hot right now but UT's inside game will be a load for the chickens so I would not be suprised with a win.

Smallmike4pres writes:

They should change it from the O'connell to the O'Brucegiveittomeagain center.

dwa7#337691 writes:

well......well.............well.............we play a super 1/2 half and then hold on..............really a good Q win and this should help greatly..........SC will probably smack us up a little but ...........for now we are still in 1st place..............only hope Lady Vols can find a way tonight.......

givehim6 writes:

IT IS GREAT TO BE A TENNASSEE VOLUNTEER! Now lets finnish this thin in style!

ctownvol writes:

in response to itsme53792#1349745:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know since you are a Memphis fan that makes you a little more uneducated than most, but the fact you think the real UT is in Texas is mindboggling. The university of Tennessee was founded in 1794. The STATE of Texas was admitted into the union in 1845. The university of Texas was founded in 1883. Check the dates Mary. The University of Tennessee is THE REAL UT! Not to mention the fact that without Tennesseeans the state of Texas would still be in MEXICO. You sir are the definition of idiot.

volsfan92 writes:

in response to ctownvol:

General you sound a lot like myself. I'm just lookin' for a reason to have a drink, and this game is reason enough! Cheers.

umm---i am drinking to this game too

ctownvol writes:

in response to volsfan92:

umm---i am drinking to this game too

The more the merrier bro.

VolJunkie writes:

in response to ctownvol:

I know since you are a Memphis fan that makes you a little more uneducated than most, but the fact you think the real UT is in Texas is mindboggling. The university of Tennessee was founded in 1794. The STATE of Texas was admitted into the union in 1845. The university of Texas was founded in 1883. Check the dates Mary. The University of Tennessee is THE REAL UT! Not to mention the fact that without Tennesseeans the state of Texas would still be in MEXICO. You sir are the definition of idiot.

ctown,

He knows, it's part of his regular routine, usually gets a couple of people to bite. Always the same stuff, never anything new or interesting, it must be a dull life when you have to post on a rivals site to get a rise but I suppose it provides a break from playing strip solitaire. I find it best to ignore him.

elizabethtonvol72 writes:

Great game guy's!! Lets take our first half play, and hustle to SC on wed. Keep up the good work! GO BIG ORANGE!!!

iowavol writes:

Dang good game all around. The gators aren't chopped liver and made some huge shots in the second half. Our repsonse to their run in the first half was big time for our confidence and the win. Good clutch free throws even though we missed a couple. They really crashed the defensive boards but Williams came up big when we needed him. Great win! This should carry a lot of confidence into South Carolina.

blitzshoot writes:

Close, but a win, and at Florida. Nice to see the Florida fans leaving early.

gohawks1 writes:

Gator free after 55 posts. Life is good.

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