(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A balanced offensive effort and a momentum-shifting, second-half run propelled the Tennessee basketball team past Florida, 65-54, on Senior Day inside Thompson-Boling Arena.
The win secured the No. 4 seed and first-round bye for the Volunteers at next week’s SEC Tournament.
The Vols (17-7, 10-7 SEC) punished the Gators (13-8, 9-7 SEC) on the boards, out-rebounding Florida 38-29 overall and 18-9 on the offensive glass.
Every Vol to record more than two minutes of playing time scored at least four points, with three scoring 14.
Tennessee was led in scoring by senior John Fulkerson, who scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, pulled in seven rebounds and dished out four assists with no turnovers.
Fellow senior Yves Pons chipped in five points, eight rebounds (including six offensive boards) and a pair of steals in his final game on Rocky Top.
Junior Victor Bailey Jr. was the second of three Vols to drop in 14 points, with eight coming in the second half.
Freshman standout Keon Johnson also finished with 14 points, scoring 10 in the second half and recording a pair of steals on the defensive end.
The programs went bucket for bucket in the early stages of the opening half, with Florida holding a slim, 18-15 lead at the midway point of the period.
The Gators opened things up with a 15-5 run to take a 33-20 lead with just under four minutes remaining.
The Vols responded with an 8-0 run of their own to close the opening half and trim the deficit to 33-28 heading into the locker room.
Out of the break, UT kept the momentum rolling. After the teams traded the opening few buckets of the half, the Vols used an afternoon-altering 15-2 run to take a 47-41 lead with close to 10 minutes remaining.
The Vols maintained their juice over the final stages of the afternoon, extending their lead to as many as 11 and coming up clutch at the foul line to end the regular season on a high note.
Up Next: Tennessee takes the court at the SEC Tournament on Friday with a quarterfinal matchup against either Florida, Vanderbilt or Texas A&M. Tipoff from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville is slated for 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.