If there’s one thing third-ranked Tennessee can rely on, it is its depth.
On the road against arch rival Florida in a hostile environment, it would prove to be the Vols' most lethal weapon. Grant Williams scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Jordan Bowden notched 17 off the bench and Admiral Schofield added 14 points as Tennessee overcame the Gators, 78-67.
The win marks the 10th consecutive for Tennessee as its heads back to Knoxville for a two-game home stand.
Bowden gave the Vols a jolt of life late in the second half with 14 straight points to put Tennessee in control during the waning minutes.
While he sat out much of the second half in foul trouble, Schofield provided the biggest score of the night, hitting a 3-pointer with 41.3 seconds left to seal the victory.
Florida would come out of the gates strong in the first half, knocking down nine shots from distance during the opening 20 minutes. The Gators led by three at the intermission and appeared to have the Vols on the ropes again for much of the second half.
That’s when Bowden stepped in and imposed his will, shifting the momentum and silencing the Gainesville crowd with a string of big plays.
Williams, who leads the SEC in points per game, knocked down 8 of 11 shots in 36 minutes and paced Tennessee early. Lamonte Turner recorded 12 points, including a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left to stretch the Vols’ lead to seven.
As Florida fans filed out of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, many of the Tennessee players were mocking the “gator chomp” celebration. KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 18 points, who had multiple opportunities down the stretch to pull off the upset.
The Vols now own their first double-digit winning streak since 2008, a feat that had eluded them for over 10 years.
While the Gators came out hot from beyond the arc, they mustered up just three from downtown during the final period, allowing Tennessee to hang around.
Tennessee heads into the thick of SEC play having now won three straight conference games, and they don’t appear to be slowing down.
Barnes’ team won’t face ranked competition again until Feb. 16 against the Kentucky Wildcats, a team it swept in last year’s regular season.
Florida hasn’t been able to solve the puzzle in over two calendar years but will visit the Vols at Thompson-Boling Arena on Feb. 9.