KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Grant Williams bounced back from one of his worst performances of the season to score 23 points and No. 19 Tennessee beat Florida 62-57 on Wednesday night to hand the Gators their third consecutive loss.
Williams had a season-low five points Saturday in a 73-62 loss at Georgia. The Tennessee scoring leader responded Wednesday by shooting 8 of 13 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the foul line.
Florida trailed nearly the whole way, but threatened in the final minute.
Chris Chiozza made a basket to cut Tennessee’s lead to 60-57 with 24.5 seconds left, and he got fouled by Williams in the process. But Chiozza missed the ensuing free throw and couldn’t get Florida any closer.
Jordan Bowden made a pair of clinching free throws with 14 seconds left.
Admiral Schofield had 16 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee (20-7, 10-5 Southeastern Conference).
Jalen Hudson had 13 points for Florida (17-11, 8-7), and Chiozza and Keith Stone each added 11. Chiozza also had nine assists and six rebounds.
Florida was seeking a quality road win that could boost its NCAA Tournament credentials.
The Gators entered the night 65th in the RPI and have a demanding schedule the rest of the way. Florida hosts No. 12 Auburn, visits Alabama and hosts Kentucky in its final three regular-season games.
The offensive struggles that have hindered Florida lately carried over. Florida had more turnovers (eight) than baskets (seven) during a first half in which it shot 26.9 percent overall and 1 of 10 from 3-point range.
Tennessee closed the first half on an 11-1 run to go into the locker room with a 27-18 advantage.
The Vols extended the lead to 10 early in the second half, but Florida crept back into the game while Williams was on the bench with three fouls.
Florida was trailing by just one point when it had two chances midway through the second half to regain the lead, but Deaundrae Ballard missed a 3-pointer on one possession and Dontay Bassett missed a baseline jumper the net time the Gators had the ball.
Tennessee then created some distance by going on a 7-0 run that included a Jordan Bowden dunk and five points from Schofield.
Florida: The Gators continually misfired from 3-point range for most of the night. They missed 15 of their first 17 3-point attempts before making four of their last seven. By the time they finally started to heat up, they already had dug themselves too deep a hole.
Tennessee: The Vols got big efforts from their two top players — Williams and Schofield — and didn’t back down when Florida finally started making its shots down the stretch. Tennessee preserved its lead by going 13 of 15 from the foul line, including 9 of 11 in the second half.
Florida: Hosts No. 12 Auburn on Saturday.
Tennessee: At Mississippi on Saturday.