It didn’t matter when guard Andrew Nembhard stole the ball in the final minute of the game off a full-court press. It didn’t matter if he dished the ball out to guard Noah Locke in the right corner for a late three.
The Gators men’s basketball team has been in a rut all season.
It didn’t matter because the fans were still chanting anyway.
“Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Heeeeyyyyyy. Goodbye.”
Those words rang out for the most of the final minute and a half as Tennessee players eased up their pressure. There was no way the Gators men’s basketball team could mount a comeback being down by 12.
The Volunteers dominated in every aspect of their 73-61 win over Florida on Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee.
UT shot 53 percent from the field compared to UF’s 36 percent.
A lot of that success was thanks to Tennessee forward Grant Williams and guard Admiral Schofield, who Florida had no answer for. The duo combined for 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting and took most of their shots from inside the three-point arc. They took full advantage of a Gators team that is lacking in size on defense since Keith Stone tore his ACL against Georgia on Jan. 19.
Despite that lack of size, Florida outrebounded Tennessee 33-31, including 15 offensive boards that led to 14 second-chance points.
UT was deadly from beyond the arc, where it made 43 percent of its shots on 6-of-14 shooting.
Where Tennessee didn’t need to rely on the three-ball too much, Florida absolutely did, taking nearly double the amount of threes the Volunteers did. The Gators shot the ball 26 times from the perimeter, making just eight of them.
On a day that was pretty grim for Florida, there were some bright spots. Guard Jalen Hudson played close to how he had been last season, scoring 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting. His aggressive play helped him reach the free-throw line for five shots, all of which he made.
Guard Noah Locke also had a good game, dropping a contest-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 5-of-8 clip from beyond the arc.
But Florida did not get the performance it was looking for from guard KeVaughn Allen. He put up 11 points, most of which came in the first half. He was limited midway through the second half due to foul trouble, which forced him to have to sit out at times and play carefully.
The loss sets the Gators at 12-11 on the year, with just a game separating them from .500. They might have ended a rough stretch that featured Kentucky, Ole Miss, TCU, Auburn and Tennessee, but they still have some battles in the upcoming weeks. Florida will go up against Alabama and LSU on the road, two tough away environments.
The next few games will be a battle for coach Mike White and the Gators as they look to build a resume for the NCAA Tournament.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at [email protected].