Injury-depleted Gators fall to No. 18 Vols, 78-71

Florida started hot from outside the arc before faltering in the second half
Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler (1) and Florida forward Anthony Duruji (4) battle for the...
Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler (1) and Florida forward Anthony Duruji (4) battle for the loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)(Wade Payne | AP)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:13 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WCJB) -Playing their third game in five nights, the Florida men’s basketball team got off to a hot start at No. 18 Tennessee, only to fall to the Volunteers, 78-71 on Wednesday night in Knoxville. The Gators (12-8 overall, 3-5 SEC) jumped on the Vols for a 15-0 run in the first half and hit five of their first six shots from outside the three-point arc before faltering in the second half.

Tyree Appleby (four-of-six from three-point range) and Anthony Duruji led the Gators with 16 points apiece, while Appleby also led the team with seven assists, and Duruji had six rebounds.

Florida is simply low on bodies at the moment. Colin Castleton, the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, missed his fourth straight game with a shoulder injury. Forward CJ Felder, who has been battling a non-COVID illness, played just three minutes. And late in the first half against the Vols, center Jason Jitoboh was accidentally hit in the face by a Tennessee player while going for a rebound and was lost for the remainder of the game with an eye injury.

UT took advantage, outscoring Florida 44-29 in the second half, led by Santiago Vescovi’s 23 points. Vescovi hit five-of-eight from three-point range, and put in a reverse lay-up to put Tennessee ahead to stay, 56-55.

Florida heads back home to face Oklahoma State Saturday at 4 p.m. in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

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