Scottie Wilbekin went for 21 points, six assists and four steals without turning the ball over as No. 3 Florida knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville, 67-58.
It was a typical Florida win.
They stymied Tennessee defensively, forcing the Vols into 15 turnovers and numerous bad shots in the final 20 minutes, while doing just enough on the offensive end to leave with a win. That’s who the Gators are this season. They’re balanced on that end, with a real offensive liability, but they don’t have anyone that you’ll need to build a game plan around. Wilbekin has become their closer, but it’s not like he’s an NBA caliber scorer. Casey Prather leads the team in that department, and he’s more of a slasher, a power forward stuck in a small forward’s body.
The Gators wear you down defensively, using different looks and different lineups to take you out of a rhythm, and then make enough plays down the stretch to win.
It worked again.
And that’s a problem for Tennessee, who now needs to pick off either Florida or Kentucky in the SEC tournament if they want to enter Selection Sunday with another marquee victory.
The biggest issue for Tennessee is that they only play three more games against top 100 opponents: Missouri twice and Vanderbilt. They have the 35 point win over Virginia — which looks better by the day — and five more wins between teams rated between 40-80, but with limited opportunities to really improve their resume and a home loss to Texas A&M already on their resume, Tennessee is going to want to avoid anything that could be viewed as a bad loss the rest of the way.
It’s worth nothing that the Vols aren’t a bad basketball team by any stretch, but they just can’t seem to find a way to consistently get everyone playing well on the same night. Take Tuesday night, for example. Jarnell Stokes finished with 20 points and 11 boards and Jordan McRae went for 17, but Jeronne Maymon scored a measly two points while committing eight turnovers.
Even without Robert Hubbs, they can be dangerous when things are clicking. They just haven’t all clicked yet.