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No. 1 Tennessee beats Florida 73-61 for 18th straight win

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee's players resisted the temptation of staging a repeat performance of a postgame ''Gator chomp'' after their latest victory over Florida.

The sellout crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena did it instead.

Grant Williams scored 16 points as the top-ranked Volunteers defeated Florida 73-61 on Saturday to extend their school-record winning streak to 18 games.

Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) owns the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. This also marks the biggest winning streak of Rick Barnes' 32-year head coaching career, surpassing the 17-game string that started Texas' 2009-10 season.

''I appreciate how hard they've competed,'' Barnes said. ''I appreciate the fact they do want to get better, and we can get better. I think they believe, like our coaching staff, that our best basketball's ahead of us. It's not going to be easy, but they're competitive. Where we are, they deserve the credit.''

Tennessee's winning streak includes a 78-67 victory at Florida on Jan. 12. Immediately after that game ended, all five Tennessee players on the floor performed a ''Gator chomp '' in a mock version of the cheer favored by Florida fans. Tennessee's Admiral Schofield said at the time the Vols were responding to ''disrespectful'' and ''inhumane'' comments Florida fans had made during the game.

This time, Tennessee's players had a more muted celebration but fans started doing the Gator chomp in the final minute and continued it as the final horn sounded.

''Poetic justice,'' said Schofield, one of four Tennessee players to score in double figures. ''At the same time, it's all in good fun. A deep rivalry, but many years of tough, hard-fought football games, tough basketball games. At the end of the day, I think a lot of people just enjoy the intensity of our rivalry with Florida.''

Florida (12-11, 4-6) lost its third straight and fourth in its last five games.

''They're the best team in the country,'' Florida coach Michael White said. ''They're equally as good defensively as they are offensively.''

Schofield scored 14 points, Jordan Bowden had 13 and Jordan Bone added 10 for Tennessee. Noah Locke scored 17, Jalen Hudson had 15 and KeVaughn Allen added 11 for Florida.

Tennessee led by as many as 16 late in the first half before Florida rallied to get within 36-30 at the intermission.

Florida cut Tennessee's lead to 40-36 with 17:37 left, but Tennessee answered with a 12-2 run that included consecutive 3-pointers from Lamonte' Turner. After Florida scored seven straight points to get the margin down to seven, Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run that featured another Turner 3-pointer plus two dunks from Schofield.

Schofield said after the game that the Vols responded to the way Barnes had challenged them.

''Winning isn't what it's about,'' Schofield said. ''That's not why we got into the game of basketball. Competing is why we got into the game of basketball. That's what we love about basketball. This week we've been doing a lot more competitive drills... just really getting the juices focusing and it really helped us really refocus on why we started playing this game.

''When you're winning so much and winning consecutively like this, you can get lost in it and little things become big things. We didn't want that as a team. We had to get back to realizing why we even started paying this game - and that's competing. Coach challenged us to just go out and compete tonight.''

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators are barely above .500 but entered this game 42nd in the NET rankings, indicating their postseason chances weren't over yet. But three straight losses to Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee have dealt a big blow to their hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Gators still have two games with No. 21 LSU plus road trips to Alabama and No. 5 Kentucky.

Tennessee: The Vols have said for several weeks they must recapture the defensive intensity they showed last season. They've started showing that form lately. After playing outstanding defense Tuesday in a 72-60 victory over Missouri, the Vols held Florida to a total of three points for a stretch of over nine minutes Saturday.

MEDICAL REPORT

Tennessee was playing without reserve swingman Yves Pons, who had suffered a facial injury while colliding with a teammate during Thursday's practice.

Barnes expressed optimism that Pons would return Wednesday against South Carolina.

BEST VS. BEST

Tennessee entered the day leading the SEC in scoring (86.0) while Florida had the SEC's top scoring defense (63.4). Tennessee ended up below its scoring average but still won that matchup by shooting 52.8 percent (28 of 53), including 59.3 percent (16 of 27) in the second half.

UP NEXT

Florida hosts Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Tennessee hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.

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Key Players
A. Nembhard
2 G
J. Bone
0 G
32.5 Min. Per Game 32.5
13.5 Pts. Per Game 13.5
6.6 Ast. Per Game 6.6
3.0 Reb. Per Game 3.0
36.5 Field Goal % 46.0
33.3 Three Point % 31.7
71.0 Free Throw % 81.4
  KeVaughn Allen missed layup 1.0
  Defensive rebound by Dontay Bassett 6.0
  Kyle Alexander missed jump shot 8.0
+ 3 Noah Locke made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Andrew Nembhard 37.0
  Bad pass turnover on Lamonte Turner, stolen by Andrew Nembhard 42.0
+ 2 KeVaughn Allen made driving layup 47.0
  Defensive rebound by Andrew Nembhard 54.0
  Kyle Alexander missed jump shot 56.0
  Defensive rebound by Jordan Bowden 1:23
  Jalen Hudson missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:25
  Defensive rebound by KeVaughn Allen 1:31
Team Stats
Points 61 73
Field Goals 21-59 (35.6%) 28-53 (52.8%)
3-Pointers 8-26 (30.8%) 6-14 (42.9%)
Free Throws 11-16 (68.8%) 11-16 (68.8%)
Total Rebounds 33 31
Offensive 13 7
Defensive 17 21
Team 3 3
Assists 11 17
Steals 6 2
Blocks 5 4
Turnovers 11 13
Fouls 19 16
Technicals 0 0
17 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST
16 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
12T
away team logo Florida 12-11 303161
home team logo 1 Tennessee 22-1 363773
Team Stats
away team logo Florida 12-11 67.8 PPG 36.3 RPG 12.1 APG
home team logo 1 Tennessee 22-1 82.0 PPG 40.4 RPG 17.9 APG
Key Players
10
N. Locke G 9.4 PPG 2.3 RPG 0.6 APG 37.5 FG%
2
G. Williams F 18.8 PPG 7.5 RPG 3.2 APG 56.5 FG%
Top Scorers
N. Locke G 17 PTS 2 REB 1 AST
G. Williams F 16 PTS 6 REB 3 AST
35.6 FG% 52.8
30.8 3PT FG% 42.9
68.8 FT% 68.8
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Locke 17 2 1 6/10 5/8 0/2 2 26 0 0 1 0 2
K. Allen 11 7 0 4/12 3/5 0/0 4 28 0 0 2 1 6
K. Hayes 7 9 2 1/3 0/0 5/6 2 30 2 3 4 4 5
K. Johnson 7 4 3 3/9 0/3 1/2 2 19 1 1 1 4 0
A. Nembhard 2 2 5 1/7 0/0 0/1 1 38 3 1 0 0 2
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Locke 17 2 1 6/10 5/8 0/2 2 26 0 0 1 0 2
K. Allen 11 7 0 4/12 3/5 0/0 4 28 0 0 2 1 6
K. Hayes 7 9 2 1/3 0/0 5/6 2 30 2 3 4 4 5
K. Johnson 7 4 3 3/9 0/3 1/2 2 19 1 1 1 4 0
A. Nembhard 2 2 5 1/7 0/0 0/1 1 38 3 1 0 0 2
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Hudson 15 1 0 5/12 0/5 5/5 3 24 0 0 1 1 0
D. Bassett 2 2 0 1/2 0/1 0/0 4 14 0 0 1 0 2
D. Ballard 0 2 0 0/2 0/2 0/0 1 11 0 0 1 2 0
M. Okauru 0 1 0 0/2 0/2 0/0 0 8 0 0 0 1 0
I. Stokes 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
K. Stone - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Gak - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Fava - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Krause - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 61 30 11 21/59 8/26 11/16 19 200 6 5 11 13 17
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Williams 16 6 3 7/11 0/0 2/3 4 32 0 0 1 3 3
A. Schofield 14 6 2 6/11 1/2 1/1 2 33 1 0 1 1 5
J. Bone 10 5 5 5/11 0/3 0/0 1 30 0 0 4 1 4
L. Turner 9 3 3 3/7 3/6 0/0 2 33 0 1 4 0 3
K. Alexander 6 3 0 2/5 0/0 2/4 3 19 0 2 2 1 2
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
G. Williams 16 6 3 7/11 0/0 2/3 4 32 0 0 1 3 3
A. Schofield 14 6 2 6/11 1/2 1/1 2 33 1 0 1 1 5
J. Bone 10 5 5 5/11 0/3 0/0 1 30 0 0 4 1 4
L. Turner 9 3 3 3/7 3/6 0/0 2 33 0 1 4 0 3
K. Alexander 6 3 0 2/5 0/0 2/4 3 19 0 2 2 1 2
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Bowden 13 5 2 4/6 2/3 3/4 1 28 1 0 1 1 4
J. Fulkerson 5 0 0 1/2 0/0 3/4 2 11 0 1 0 0 0
J. Johnson 0 0 2 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 9 0 0 0 0 0
D. Walker 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0
B. Jancek 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
B. Woodson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Campbell - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Fleschman - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Kent - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Y. Pons - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Burns - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 73 28 17 28/53 6/14 11/16 16 200 2 4 13 7 21