Grant Williams scored 20 points, Jordan Bowden added 17 off the bench and No. 3 Tennessee rallied to beat Florida 78-67 on Saturday for their 10th consecutive victory.
Admiral Schofield, who sat out much of the second half with four fouls, provided the biggest bucket with a 3-pointer from the corner with 41.3 seconds remaining. Jalen Hudson misfired on the other end, and the Gators were forced to foul in the waning seconds. Schofield’s shot came after Williams appeared to get away with a travel in the lane.
Tennessee players mockingly performed the “Gator chomp” to fans after the final buzzer.
The Volunteers (14-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) have their first double-digit winning streak since 2008.
Williams, Bowden and Schofield did much of the heavy lifting in the latest one.
Williams made 8 of 11 shots to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. Bowden accounted for 14 consecutive points in the second half — with Schofield on the bench — and then Schofield delivered the knockout blow. Schofield finished with 14 points.
KeVaughn Allen led the Gators (9-6, 1-2) with 18 points.
Florida led 38-35 at the half thanks to nine 3-pointers. But coach Mike White’s team made just three from behind the arc in the second half.
Still, the Gators had chances to pull off an upset. They twice allowed Williams to make baskets after two offensive rebounds in the second half and missed two treys in the final 1:14, including one off a turnover.
Tennessee: The Volunteers have won five straight in true road games, a sign of their talent and depth.
Florida: The Gators went toe-to-toe with a top-five team, but just don’t have the fire power to score 80 to beat many elite teams.
Florida football coach Dan Mullen addressed the sellout crowd before the game, crediting his team for a 10-win season that included a win against Michigan in the Peach Bowl.
“The Gator standard is to not be in second in the SEC, the Gator standard is about being first in the SEC,” Mullen said. “The challenge for all of us, the challenge for the players, for coaches and everybody in Gator Nation, what we did last year was good enough for 10 wins and No. 6.
“This year we’re going to ask you for a whole ‘nother level. I challenge you to bring back that Gator standard not to be No. 2, but to be at a championship level.”
Former Florida guard Walter Hodge, a two-time national champion, was in attendance. Hodge currently plays for Homenetmen Beirut in a professional league in Lebanon.
Tennessee begins a two-game homestand against Arkansas on Tuesday night.
Florida plays at No. 14 Mississippi State on Wednesday night.