GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — KeVaughn Allen connected on four 3-pointers in the final 7:34 and scored 23 points to send No. 24 Florida to an 83-70 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
The Gators (12-3, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) pulled away from a 56-all tie with 8:57 left to win their fifth game in a row. Allen made three of his 3s in a span of five possessions to turn a game that had featured six ties and 12 lead changes into a runaway at the end.
Tennessee (8-7, 1-2) led 33-32 at halftime by forcing nine turnovers and limiting the Gators to 36.4 percent shooting. Florida, however, hit 10 of its first 11 shots in the second half and has won its first three SEC games for the fourth time in five years.
Justin Leon added 19 points and six rebounds for Florida. Canyon Barry celebrated his birthday with 15 points and four rebounds, and Kasey Hill had seven assists.
Tennessee was led by Admiral Schofield with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Bowden had 15 points.
Tennessee: The Volunteers managed to get Florida’s big men in foul trouble, forcing coach Mike White to go to a smaller lineup that still wasn’t as quick as theirs. However, Tennessee’s perimeter defense struggled in the second half and when Schofield fouled out, there was no one to pick up the offensive slack.
Florida: The Gators were able to bounce back from easily their worst half of basketball this season. Tennessee extended its zone to keep Allen at bay from beyond the 3-point line, and Florida was on a pace to set a season high for turnovers. However, the Gators bounced back to shoot 67 percent in the second half and commit only two turnovers. That bodes well for them as they get into the meat of their SEC schedule.
Tennessee: The loss to Florida was the beginning of a brutal stretch of eight games during the remainder of the month in which half are on the road, and the home games include Kentucky and Kansas State back-to-back. The combined winning percentage of Tennessee’s opponents the rest of the month (counting Florida) entering Saturday’s games was .741.
Florida: After playing three of four games in their newly renovated arena, the Gators will be on the road for four of their next six during the rest of January, beginning Tuesday at Alabama, a team that snapped an 11-game losing streak against Florida in their only meeting last season with a 61-55 victory in Gainesville. The other road games will be against South Carolina, LSU and Oklahoma.
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