No. 2 Tennessee freezes offensively in upset loss at Florida

Colin Castleton grabbed the ball and bellowed. The Florida forward had completed the first half of one of his multiple second-half three-point plays — and Tennessee basketball was toast.

The No. 2 Vols froze offensively at Florida and crumbled under multiple UF scoring blitzes, tumbling 67-54 to the Gators on Wednesday in Gainesville, Florida.

Zakai Zeigler had a team-high 15 points with three 3-pointers for the Vols (18-4, 7-2 SEC). Tennessee was 5-for-25 on 3-pointers. Castleton dominated Tennessee in the post. He had 20 points and nine rebounds for Florida (13-9, 6-3)

Florida outscored Tennessee 29-10 in the final 10:40, handing the Vols a loss that put UT's SEC regular-season title hopes in rough shape.

The Vols allowed Florida to hit with multiple long runs

Tennessee has had success this season with stringing together runs of 10-0 or more, while limiting opponents' attempts at such runs.

Florida flipped that trend on the Vols with a 15-0 first-half run and a second-half 13-0 run, the latter of which buried the Vols.

Tennessee took a 44-38 lead with an 8-0 run that started with a Zeigler 3-pointer. Florida scored 13 straight after a Zeigler floater put UT up 46-42.

Tennessee was horrendous early offensively

Santiago Vescovi made a 3-pointer in the opening two minutes, then Tennessee's offense went frigid. The Vols were 1-for-10 shooting to open, falling behind 17-4 as Florida had no issue scoring early.

The Vols shot 29% in the first half and were 2-for-10 on 3-pointers.

UT strung together an 8-2 run to whittle Florida's lead to 22-21, but the Gators closed the first half with five straight points to regain control.

Vols are two games back in the SEC

Tennessee opened February poorly after a stout end to January. Its loss to Florida is its worst since a Nov. 13 defeat against Colorado.

The loss puts UT behind first-place Alabama by two games in the SEC standings. The Vols are tied with Auburn and Texas A&M for second place. They're a game ahead of Florida.

Up next

Tennessee hosts No. 23 Auburn on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the first of two regular-season meetings.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: No. 2 Tennessee men's basketball upset by rival Florida