No. 1 Vols make history, win 18 straight

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Grant Williams scored 16 points as No. 1 Tennessee defeated Florida 73-61 on Saturday to complete a season sweep of the Gators and extend its school-record winning streak to 18 games.

Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) owns the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. This also marks the biggest winning streak of Rick Barnes’ 32-year head coaching career, surpassing the 17-game string that started Texas’ 2009-10 season.

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Florida (12-11, 4-6) has lost three straight and four of its last five.

Tennessee’s winning streak includes a 78-67 victory at Florida on Jan. 12. Immediately after that game ended, all five Tennessee players on the floor performed a “Gator chomp” in a mock version of the cheer favored by Florida fans.

Although Tennessee’s players refrained from a similar celebration Saturday, much of the sellout crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena crowd started doing the Gator chomp in the final minute and continued it as the final horn sounded.

Tennessee entered the day leading the SEC in scoring (86.0) while Florida had the SEC’s top scoring defense (63.4). Tennessee ended up below its scoring average but still won that matchup by shooting 52.8 percent (28 of 53), including 59.3 percent (16 of 27) in the second half.

Admiral Schofield scored 14 points, Jordan Bowden had 13 and Jordan Bone added 10 for Tennessee. Noah Locke scored 17, Jalen Hudson had 15 and KeVaughn Allen added 11 for Florida.

Tennessee held Florida to a total of three points for a stretch of over nine minutes, enabling the Vols to turn an 8-5 deficit into a 22-11 advantage. Tennessee led by as many as 16 later in the first half before Florida rallied to get within 36-30 at the intermission.

Florida cut Tennessee’s lead to 40-36 with 17:37 left, but Tennessee answered with a 12-2 run that included consecutive 3-pointers from Lamonte’ Turner. After Florida scored seven straight points to get the margin down to seven, Tennessee responded with a 9-0 run that featured another Turner 3-pointer plus two dunks from Schofield.

Tennessee was playing without reserve swingman Yves Pons, who had suffered a facial injury while colliding with a teammate during Thursday’s practice.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators are barely above .500 but entered this game 42nd in the NET rankings, indicating their postseason chances weren’t over yet. But three straight losses to Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee have dealt a big blow to their hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Gators still have two games with No. 21 LSU plus road trips to Alabama and No. 5 Kentucky.

Tennessee: After struggling a bit Tuesday in a 72-60 victory over Missouri, the Vols’ offense was back in form. Tennessee has shot over 50 percent in three of its last four games.

UP NEXT

Florida hosts Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Tennessee hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."