Just one day after rising to its highest spot in the AP Top 25 in five years, No. 2 Tennessee fell 67-54 at Florida on Tuesday night because of a disastrous offensive showing. The Gators (13-9, 6-3 SEC) held Tennessee (18-4, 7-2) to just 27% shooting and forced the Volunteers to go cold for long stretches while notching their second Quad 1 victory of the season. The Volunteers are the 10th different No. 2 ranked team to lose this season.
Florida has now won six of its last seven conference games under first-year coach Todd Golden. Colin Castleton led the way with 20 points and nine rebounds with all but four of his points coming in the second half. The Volunteers surged ahead 44-38 with 10:40 remaining, but made just two shots from the floor over the next eight minutes as the Gators rattled off a 22-5 run.
Tennessee entered the game with the nation’s No. 1 ranked defense, according to KenPom.com, but the performance underscored the recurring offensive issues that have plagued the Volunteers. This marked the third time this season Tennessee has failed to shoot at least 30% from the floor. The Volunteers made just 5 of 25 attempts from 3-point range and finished with just seven assists.
Florida entered off a weak offensive showing in a 64-50 loss at Kansas State on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and shot a respectable 43.8% from the floor against the Volunteers’ vaunted defense. Though UF entered the game outside the NCAA Tournament picture in Jerry Palm’s Bracketology, the outcome should push Florida closer to the bubble.
The Gators are still just 2-7 in Quad 1 games, but have marquee Quad 1 opportunities ahead over the next week with games at Kentucky and at No. 4 Alabama. Tennessee will remain on Palm’s projected No. 2 line even after the loss. A Saturday home game against No. 25 Auburn is next for the Volunteers.