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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Florida upends No. 2 Tennessee with second-half rally

Florida upends No. 2 Tennessee with second-half rally


Colin Castleton scored 20 points and Kyle Lofton added 14 points and four assists, lifting Florida to a 67-54 upset of No. 2 Tennessee in Gainesville, Fla., on Wednesday.

Florida has now beaten a top-two team at home in back-to-back seasons after upsetting No. 2 Auburn 63-62 on Feb. 19, 2022.

Tennessee led by as many as six points in the second half and went ahead 46-42 on a Zakai Ziegler layup before Florida answered with a game-altering 13-0 run. Riley Kugel put Florida up for good at 47-46 with a transition layup, and after five straight points from Castleton, Lofton sank a 3-pointer to give Florida a 55-46 lead with 5:12 left.

From there, Florida closed the game out. The Gators shot 43.8 percent from the field and 35 percent (7-for-20) from beyond arc.

Zeigler led Tennessee (18-4, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) with 15 points, while forward Olivier Nkamhoua and guard Santiago Vescovi added 11 points apiece. The Vols struggled from the field all night, shooting just 27.9 percent, including 5 of 25 (20 percent) from 3-point range.

Will Richard scored seven points in the first half, helping Florida jump out to a 27-21 lead at halftime.

The Gators got off to a torrid start, making six of their first eight attempts from the floor to take an early 17-4 lead on a Trey Bonham 3-pointer.

But the Vols rallied back. Nkamhoua went on a personal 7-0 run that cut Florida’s lead to 17-11.

An inside basket by Nkamhoua with 4:04 remaining in the first half pulled Tennessee within 22-21.

The Gators responded by closing the half with a 5-0 run, with Richard hitting a 3-pointer and Alex Fudge throwing home a dunk with four seconds remaining, giving the Gators their six-point lead at the break.

Florida shot 41.7 percent from the floor in the first half, while holding Tennessee to 29 percent shooting.

In the second half, Tennessee regained the lead, going up 44-38 with the help of three Vescovi free throws before Florida began its comeback.

–Field Level Media


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