Vols need to fix mistakes, continue to improve
But ask the 6-foot-10, 272-pound center about UT's 81-75 overtime loss to Florida on Jan. 11, and his smile fades quickly.
"Yeah, it still bothers me,'' said Williams, whose potential game-winning shot in regulation was blocked in the closing seconds by Gators forward Alex Tyus. "Ever since that game, I've been taking it to the basket harder.
"Then what really disappointed me about that game was I only played 20 seconds of that overtime, because I picked up my fifth foul.''
Florida (19-5, 8-2 SEC) has run away with the Eastern Division lead since beating the Vols, while UT (15-9, 5-4) is on the verge of falling out of contention. The teams meet at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla., in an ESPN-televised game.
"There's no better team for us to bounce back against than the top team in the East,'' Williams said. "It's go time.''
Vols coach Bruce Pearl did his best to get the wheels turning Thursday as UT took to the court for the first time since Tuesday night's 73-61 loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
As much as the team got done, it was limited. Scotty Hopson (16.2 points per game) and Tobias Harris (14.6 ppg.), the Vols' two leading scorers, missed parts of practice on account of their ankle injuries.
"Cam (Tatum) was good, Brian was good, Mel (Goins) was good, but to not have Scotty and Tobias for the entire offensive portion of practice, it's hard to get better,'' Pearl said. "I'm not making any excuses, it is what it is.''
And trying to win at Florida is what it is - very difficult.
"They are talented, deep, they start three seniors and everyone who started for them a year ago is back,'' Pearl said. "They are a very confident team.''
Still, Pearl likes having the Gators left on the schedule.
"At this time of year, you need lots of statement games,'' Pearl said. "You look at our schedule, and everyone we have left is capable of beating us.
"But that's good, because all we have left are resume builders.''
Tatum said the team's aware this is the sixth road trip over the past eight games.
"It's definitely a grind,'' he said. "This is when it comes down to eating right, getting your rest and training properly.
"The opportunity is right there for us, but everyone has to step up. There's really nothing left to say.''
Injury Update: Hopson, who sprained his ankle in a Feb. 1 practice and missed the following two games, went through running drills but did not take part in any contact drills on Thursday.
Harris, who rolled his ankle on Jan. 29 at Ole Miss, but has not missed and games, took part in some contact work but missed approximately half of practice.
Gator Bites: Florida coach Billy Donovan is 14-15 all-time against UT, but the Gators have won the past two meetings . . . Florida is 6-1 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI, with Ohio State being the lone loss . . . The Gators are 16-1 when holding opponents to 70 points or less. Tennessee averages 72.0 points per game.