Vols beat Gators, win SEC Title

Vols beat Gators, win SEC Title

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By JIM WOGAN
6 Sports Director

GAINSVILLE, Fla. (WATE) -- Tennessee's basketball team did more than beat Florida on Wednesday night, it also won an SEC title.

The Vols used a second-half surge to beat the Gators 89-86. The win, combined with a Mississippi State loss at Vanderbilt, gives Tennessee its first outright SEC regular season title in 41 years.

Beating Florida wasn't easy. The Vols were down by 16-points in the first-half after the Gators opened with a nearly unstoppable shooting effort. Florida shot 68-percent and led by thirteen points at the end of the first half. It was the Vols largest halftime deficit of the season.

But Tennessee never caved. The Vols closed the gap to 65-63 on a JaJuan Smith 3-point shot with 10:13 left. Smith scored thirteen points during a run that finally gave UT a 73-69 lead with 7:08 left.

Florida fought back to tied the game at 85. But Tyler Smith rebounded a JaJuan Smith missed free throw to give the Vols the lead for good at 87-85. Florida's Nick Calathes missed a 3-point shot with 3 seconds left that would have forced overtime.

JaJuan Smith led the Vols with 23 points. Chris Lofton added 21. Tyler Smith finished with 13. Wayne Chism scored 12, and J.P. Prince had 10.

The Vols improve to 27-3 on the season, their best record in school history. They close the regular season Sunday at home against South Carolina. It will mark the final home game for seniors Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, and Jordan Howell.

 

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