Volunteers Come Back to Beat Gators
JaJuan Smith scored 23 points and Chris Lofton added 21 as #4 Tennessee overcame a 16-point deficit to beat Florida 89-86 on Wednesday night in the O'Connell Center.
The Volunteers (27-3, 13-2 Southeastern Conference) set a school record for victories and may have knocked the two-time defending national champions out of the NCAA tournament picture.
The Gators (21-9, 8-7) have lost six of their last 10 and might need to win the SEC tournament to earn a 10th consecutive NCAA berth.
They also might want to avoid facing Tennessee in the conference tournament. The Volunteers overcame a 13-point deficit to beat the Gators 104-82 in Knoxville last month and dug themselves out of an even bigger hole Wednesday.
Florida had two chances to send it to overtime, though. Dan Werner committed an offensive foul on the first try. Then, Jai Lucas tipped the inbounds pass off Smith's leg, which gave the Gators the ball back with 6.9 seconds to play. Nick Calathes got the ball and took a deep 3-pointer that ricocheted off the back of the rim.
Calathes led Florida with 24 points and nine assists, while Marreese Speights added 21 points and seven rebounds.
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