Hoops Central: #2 Tennessee at Florida

After an unbeaten week in front of their home crowd, No. 2 Tennessee hits the road again this week to take on Florida on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Fans can watch Wednesday’s game on ESPN2 and online or on any mobile device via WatchESPN. WatchESPN can be accessed through the ESPN app or online at espn.com/watch. Kevin Fitzgerald (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst) will have the call.

Fans can also hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp detail the action live on their local Vol Network affiliate.

After a brief hiatus from last Saturday’s conference play for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Tennessee (18-3, 7-1 SEC) defeated No. 10 Texas 82-0 in front of a packed Thompson-Boling Arena. 71. Senior Olivier Nkamhoua exploded for a career-high 27 points in 12-of-15 shooting while All-America nominee Zakai Zeigler had his third career double-double with 22 points and 10 assists. The Vols have now won six of their last seven games against AP top 10 opponents.

Since Rick Barnes took over the reins of the program ahead of the 2015-16 season, Tennessee is 8-2 against Florida, including a recent streak of three straight wins. Wednesday marks Tennessee’s first trip to Florida since January 19, 2021, and first time since January 12, 2019 in front of a non-reduced capacity audience at Exactech Arena.

Tennessee returns to Thompson-Boling Arena for another top-25 home game this Saturday, taking on No. 25 Auburn. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.


• Tennessee leads its 1927 all-time streak with Florida, 80-58.
• But if the series is played in Gainesville, the Gators have a 36-26 advantage.
• Tennessee have finished 1-4 in their last five trips to Exactech Arena, with their only win in that span coming in 2019 when the Vols finished 3rd.
• The Volunteers won last season’s singles meeting, bouncing back from a 13-point deficit to a 78-71 win in Knoxville.
• Santiago Vescovi was 5-8 from 3-point range in last year’s win over Florida. His 23 points marked a career high at the time.
• The Vols have won six straight SEC True Road games (nine straight SEC games away, including the 2022 SEC tournament).
• The Vols are undefeated in SEC road games, allowing just 54.0 points per game.
• Tennessee’s four-game winning streak is the longest active winning streak among league teams.


• The Vols have held second place in the NCAA NET ratings since January 3.
• During the SEC game, Tennessee leads the league in scoring defense (55.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.478), 3-point percentage (.356), FT percentage (.777), assists (17 .6) and assist/turnover ratio (1.42).
• In their last 24 games against SEC opponents, the Vols are 22-2 with wins over every league opponent except Alabama (no matches).
• Reigning SEC Player of the Week Zakai Zeigler averages a league-best 7.3 assists during SEC play and has averaged 27 assists in the last three UT games.
• In UT’s two wins last week, Santiago Vescovi led the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s three 3-point marks shy of fourth place on the program’s all-time list.
• Tennessee has two wins against teams with a current top-10 net rating – No. 8 Kansas and No. 9 Texas. UT is one of only six teams in the country that can claim that.
• During the Barnes era, Tennessee was in the top three in the AP poll 11 times. The Vols had a total of three top 3 appearances in program history prior to Barnes’ hiring.


• For the 10th straight week, Volunteers have the best adjusted Defense Efficiency in the country according to KenPom, allowing just 84.1 points per 100 possessions.
• Tennessee has the nation’s best defense (54.5 ppg), field goal defense (.345), and 3-point defense (.220).
• 10 times this season the Vols have held their opponents to 50 points or less.
• Only three teams have reached the 70 point mark against these Vols.
• Only four opposing players have scored 20 or more points against the Vols this season.
• In 21 games, their Tennessee opponents have managed to make just 103 3-pointers – just 4.9 per game.
• Tennessee has fallen behind just three times at halftime this season, outperforming their opponents by 35.5-25.0 pp (+10.5 pp) in the first half.


• Florida (12-9, 5-3 SEC) suffered a 64-50 loss at No. 5 Kansas State in Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge but has won five of their last six games in SEC play.
• The Gators’ three SEC losses – in Auburn and twice to Texas A&M – have combined for eight points.
• Wednesday’s matchup against Tennessee marks Florida’s ninth Quadrant 1 game of the season. The Gators, currently ranked 50th on the NET ladder, are 1-7th in Quad 1 games so far this season, with the only win coming in Mississippi State.
• Todd Golden is in his first season as a Florida head coach and comes to Gainesville after three seasons as head coach in San Francisco, where he led the Dons to a 57-36 (.613) record and an appearance at the 2022 NCAA tournament. As a player, Golden played at Saint Mary’s from 2004 to 2008 and led the Gaels to two NCAA tournament appearances.
• Once again leading the Gators this season is Colin Castleton, the second-team 2022 All-SEC selection and fifth-year player who has team-leading totals in points (14.9 ppg), rebounds (7.6 rpg) , blocks (3.2 bpg) and steals (1.0 spg).
• Castleton’s 67 total blocks this season and his 3.2 blocks per game rank third overall in Division I. As a team, Florida blocks 6.0 shots per game, which is also third among all Division I teams.
• Castleton has failed to hit double digits in just three games this season, averaging 15.5 ppg in SEC play.
• According to KenPom, Florida’s defense ranks eighth in the country in terms of Adjusted Defense Efficiency. The Gators’ offense is ranked 147th.


• Solid second-half play by both sides helped No. 18 Tennessee beat Florida 78-71 on January 26, 2022 at the Thompson-Boling Arena.
• Santiago Vescovi scored a career-high 23 points. His big night came mostly from beyond the arc as he sank 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
• Newcomers Kennedy Chandler and Zakai Zeigler were also in double figures with 17 and 11, respectively. Zeigler was accurate past the 3-point arc and made 3 of 5. Chandler was automatic from the free throw line and made all six of his attempts.
• The Big Orange overtook Florida 34-24 and added 22 assists to Florida’s 15.
• Tennessee ended the game 17 to 18 (.944) at the free throw line
• Florida started the game with 5/6 on 3-pointers and 8/11 from the floor. Tennessee’s offense found an answer after the U12 timed, sinking three straight Treys – two from Ziegler and one from Chandler – to take the Big Orange from a 13-point deficit to four. Vescovi conceded eight points in the last two minutes as Tennessee trailed 42-34 at the break.
• Tennessee played a full second half to complete the comeback against the Gators. The Vols held Florida to just 29 points during that period, benefiting from an 11-2 run that lasted five minutes in the middle of the frame. Firing for a 50 percent clip from the floor in the second half, UT couldn’t miss the line, making all 13 attempts from the charity strip.


• Florida head coach Todd Golden was a senior at Saint Mary’s when the Gaels faced Rick Barnes’ Texans on January 5, 2008 in Austin, Texas. The 14th-ranked Longhorns won 81-62 against the 24th-ranked Gaels.
• Golden started and totaled six points, five rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes.
• DJ Augustin led Texas by 30 points and won the Bob Cousy Award.
• The loss raised Saint Mary’s record to 2:12 and the Gaels finished second in the West Coast Conference (behind Gonzaga) before losing to Miami (Fla.) in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament.


• Tennessee is undefeated if they are ranked 2nd in the AP poll at the tipoff.
• Second-place Vols defeated Auburn and Memphis back-to-back in February 2008.


• Tennessee won 7-1 in January and go into February just two wins from the 20-win mark.
• The Vols had a +18.9 goal margin, +7.5 rebound margin and +2.5 turnover margin in January while shooting .493 from the field and .365 from deep.


• Kennedy Chandler was a standout point guard for the Vols last season before being drafted 38th overall in the NBA draft. Check out how Zakai Zeigler’s second division stats this season compare to Chandler’s stats from last year.

Chandler 21 13.2 2.9 5.05 | 106 1.89
Zeigler 21 11.2 3.0 5.14 | 108 2.30


• Senior striker Olivier Nkamhoua has shot 37 of 54 (.685) from the field since the calendar switched to 2023.
• Overall, he has shot at least 50 percent from the field in all but five games this season.
• He is one of only five players in Division I to have had three or more games this season in which he scored 20 or more points while shooting 80 percent or better.
• On January 7, in South Carolina, he set a Tennessee program record by shooting 10-on-10 off the field during a 21- and 10-double-double performance.
• Nkamhoua also starred in the Vols’ big win over Texas on January 28, dropping a career-high 27 points in 12-of-15 shooting.
• Nkamhoua starts every game and is UT’s second-best rebounder (5.09 rpg) and third-best scorer (11.0 ppg). His 44 assists are also the third most on the team.

Comments are closed.