The Gators men’s basketball team’s comeback attempt fell short in Knoxville as they lost 63-58.
Tennessee’s John Fulkerson led all scorers with 22 points. Of his 22 points, he scored 16 in the second half to secure the victory.
Florida’s Kerry Blackshear Jr. led the Gators in scoring with 20 points, 15 of which came in the last 20 minutes of the game.
— Florida Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) February 29, 2020
A tale of two halves
The contest was one of two very different halves. In the first twenty minutes, a lethargic and uninspired Gator squad took the court.
In the first half, the Gators struggled to move the ball with any consistency. Eleven first-half turnovers made it difficult for any Florida player to get in any kind of rhythm early on.
Florida went on a field goal drought of over nine minutes to close out the half. The Gators also did not score for the last 4:24 of the half. Florida’s shooting drought created a 15-point deficit after the first 20 minutes. Florida’s 17 first-half points were the lowest scoring total in a half this season for the Gators. To start the second half, Florida trailed at one point by 19 points.
Tennessee leads by only two now. They've led by as much as 19 in this one. #Gators
— Steven Walker (@swalker_7) February 29, 2020
Coming out in the second half, Florida had a renewed energy. Noah Locke scored 7 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half to try and spark a comeback.
Mann scored a three-point basket with under nine minutes to play to get the Gators within single-digits for the first time since 4:24 in the first half when the Gators trailed 26-16. Tre Mann scored nine points in the second half and played a huge role in the Gators’ comeback attempt.
Florida went on a 14-2 run in the middle of the second half in over a four-minute span. This cut the Volunteer lead to just seven points with 7:41 left in the game.
Blackshear hit a three-pointer with five minutes to play that cut the Tennessee lead to just six. The next few possessions he hit tip-ins and layups to cut the lead to just two.
Fulkerson slammed home a put-back dunk with 45 seconds left to give the Volunteers a four-point lead. Tennessee played the free-throw game as the Gators had to intentionally foul to stay in the game. Florida ended the game hitting only one of their last seven field goals.
While the comeback came up short, Florida head coach Mike White’s squad showed resilience and poise. The Gators trailed by as much as 19 at one point and cut the lead to just two in their efforts.
The Gators men’s basketball team will look to rebound against Georgia on March 4 at 7 p.m. Previously, the Gators achieved the largest comeback in program history when they beat the Bulldogs in Gainesville earlier this season.