Tonight Florida comes to Knoxville to play the Tennessee Volunteers. Florida is trying to bounce back from two surprising losses in one week to Vanderbilt and LSU, and playing Tennessee, an SEC team whose NCAA tournament status is still uncertain, on the road will not be an easy task. Noah and Horford will need to assert dominance in the paint for the Gators to run their gameplan, while the Vols need a big game out of Chris Lofton. But let’s be honest: all eyes tonight are on what Pat Summitt’s going to do. When the Lady Vols had one of their biggest home games this year (a loss to Duke), Bruce Pearl showed his support with bodypaint. While I appreciate his enthusiasm, it made for one of the most eye-singeing moments in college basketball in recent memory. Pat Summitt has since vowed to repay him by doing something big tonight. I hope it’s fun but in good taste, because if it even resembles what Bruce Pearl did, I may need Ibuprofen just to watch the basketball game. I’m serious. A bodypainted Summit might start a riot.
9:00 pm: Michigan, who is fighting for their postseason lives, leads Michigan St. 63-56 with 2 minutes left.
9:09 pm: 3-0, Florida. Taurean Green draws first blood with a three pointer.
9:10 pm: 3-3. Wayne Chism steps out of the paint and gets a three of his own. He’s a great athlete.
9:12 pm: 7-3, Florida. Corey Brewer steals a pass and gets an easy reverse dunk on the other end.
9:13 pm: 7-5, Florida. Lofton makes a great pass to Chism, who delivers an emphatic dunk uncontested.
Interestingly, he shares a name with Dennis Chism, aka “Spyda” from the And 1 mixtape tour. They’re both great dunkers. Unfortunately, they have no relation.
9:16 pm: 12-7, Tenn. After getting another basket inside to tie the game, the Vols take the lead by storm, attacking the basket. Florida’s forwards really seem to be struggling defensively.
9:18 pm: 14-10, Tenn. Okay, Here comes Pat Summitt…
Uh…wow. That certainly was not expected. She came out in a cheerleader’s outfit, sang “Rocky Top”, was part of a cheerleader pyramid, and gave Dickie V some interesting headgear. I am excited, surprised, shocked, happy, and disappointed all at the same time. The details at halftime.
9:22 pm: 15-14, Florida. After shooting free throws, Florida takes the lead back after Humphrey hits another three.
9:23 pm: 18-17, Tenn. Horford gives Florida the lead inside, but Dane Bradshaw drives down the lane and hits a shot in Noah’s face to give the lead back to the Vols.
9:25 pm: 22-17, Tenn. Where is the shutdown defense Florida is supposed to have? I saw how they won the national championship; they had perhaps the best defense in the nation. Noah and Horford combined to create an impenetrable force in the paint. Tonight they’re letting the Vols through the lane like Mexicans at the border. Why? Were they completely unprepared for this game? Are they resting on their laurels, worrying about the NBA? God, I sure hope not. Not that I’m rooting for them, but I would at least like to see them play well.
9:30 pm: 25-17, Tenn. Chris Lofton hits a three in the face of Lee Humphrey AND his parents! It wasn’t enough for him to just embarrass a player, he had to humiliate his entire family in one shot.
9:32 pm: 28-17, Florida. Dick Vitale is sending subliminal messages to the audience that he has a gay crush on Dane Bradshaw. Lofton scores again.
9:35 pm: 31-17, Florida. Tennessee is doing such an excellent job of passing the ball. There were about 12 passes before JaJuan Smith hit another three for the Vols.
9:36 pm: 33-19, Florida. According to Loser With Socks, Joakim Noah is a tranny, currently on Estrogen therapy. Regardless of his penile status, he certainly is playing like a girl today, letting the Vols have their way with him, and he’s already in foul trouble.
9:41 pm: 37-19, Tenn. Do you really feel sorry for the Gators, Dick Vitale? Because that’s not what you said on the phone.
9:45 pm: 39-23, Tenn. Horford stops the bleeding on offense, but when is he going to start playing some defense? If you have a bad day that’s one thing, but it looks like the Gators aren’t really trying in this game.
9:48 pm: 46-27, Tenn. Lofton hits yet another thee to extend the lead to 19.
Peyton Manning is pleased by what he’s seeing. Maybe that’s it; Bruce Pearl, Pat Summitt, and Peyton Manning are in the same building at the same time. Add the fact that having Dickie V in your arena always favors the home team, and you get the four horsemen of Florida’s apocalypse.
9:49 pm: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Dear Lord, deliver us from the Fantastic Four sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer. If you do one thing, you will smite this movie. Thank you, Amen.
9:54 pm: 50-31, Tenn. The first half ends, with Tennessee leading by 19. Good Lord. The Tiananmen Square could defend the Vols better, BY HIMSELF, than the entire Florida team is dong now. They need to be the shutdown defensive team the are capable of being if they want to have any shot at…
Oooooooohhhh. Digger Phelps just made a hip hop reference. That was just AAAWWWK-WARRRRD.
Anyway, It looked the one thing the Gators lacked in the first half was effort. We know they’re better than this, but they don’t have the right mindset, and I have no idea why.
As good as things are for the Vols right now, I would not rest just yet if I were them. If Florida turns on the mental switch, they have every capacity to come back in this game. So Tennessee need to keep attacking until this game is completely out of reach; the worst thing they could do in the second half in suddenly play conservative. They have Florida by the balls. Now they need to twist.
10:04 pm: About the whole Pat Summitt thing…25 years of coaching must really do damage to your vocal cords. Because that may have been the worst sports singing performance since a completely Stoned Ozzy Osbourne sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley. Other than that and the feathered hat, it wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the Tar Heels. Which is probably WAY too much information for you to know about my UNC fandom.
10:15 pm: 52-31, Tenn. The Vols continue to have their way with the Florida defense. What the hell is wrong with Noah?
10:17 pm: Wayne Chism picks up his fourth foul with 17 minutes left. If there is a time for the Gators and their interior players to make their move, it’s now. They must attack the basket from this point on.
10:18 pm: 55-31, Tenn. Of course, attacking means nothing if you can’t defend. Or protect the ball. Florida now has 15 turnovers to Tennessee’s 6.
10:21 pm: 60-36, Tenn. Lee Humphrey stops the bleeding for Florida’s offense, but he’s being outplayed by the Vols’ own white Senior guard, Dane Bradshaw (Dickie V’s gay crush).
10:24 pm: Oh, so that’s it…Peyton Manning brought Tar Heel Jeff Saturday with him to the game! I knew it! Tar Heels have complete control of the universe!
10:28 pm: 60-38, Tenn. Derek Jeter never forgets where he came from? Well, that’s news to me.
10:30 pm: 63-38, Tenn. The Vols now lead by 25, as Lofton now has 17 points on 8-10 shooting. 26 points off turnovers will kill you every time.
10:33 pm: 65-40, Tenn. If there is any bright spot at all for Florida in this game, it is probably Chris Richard, who has 10 points on 4-5 shooting in the paint.
10:37 pm: 65-45, Tenn. Humphrey scores another three, but can you believe that’s Noah’s first basket of the game?
10:41 pm: 67-54, Tenn. Taurean Green hits a three, the Gators are playing good defense, Noah is finally scoring, and suddenly Florida has cut the 27 point lead in half in about two and a half minutes. Suddenly, this game is competitive again. Keep in mind that Chism, Tennessee’s biggest inside threat, is on the bench with four fouls. Can Florida keep this up?
10:44 pm: 69-54, Tenn. It looks like the Vols have stopped playing to win and started playing not to lose. If they do that, and Florida keeps playing with a sense of urgency, Tennessee may very well end up losing this game. Keep in mind the Tennessee is still in control in this game; they just need to slam the door.
10:46 pm: Either I just saw the Orange Man Group or those guys have the worst spray-on tan ever.
10:49 pm: 69-59, Tenn. The Gators force another turnover, and suddenly they’re within 10. The Vols fans are officially concerned about this game. But they need the crowd now more than ever.
10:50 pm: 69-61, Tenn. Chism is back in the game with 6 minutes left.
10:51 pm: 71-61, Tenn. Lofton gets a nice basket inside. before that basket, Florida was on a 30-11 run since being down 27.
10:54 pm: 75-61, Tenn. The Vols may end up putting this game away at the free throw line.
10:55 pm: 75-63, Tenn. Horford now has 15 in this game, but that’s his first basket of the second half.
10:57 pm: 75-65, Tenn, less than 4:00 left. Brewer drives inside and reduces the deficit back to 10.
Quiet, Dickie V, you’ve got about 17 players on your All-American Team right now.
11:03 pm: 76-67, Tenn. Neither team has shot well at all in the last few minutes. Horford gets an easy dunk to reduce the lead to 9.
11:04 pm: 78-67, Tenn 2:20 left. The last thing the Gators needed was a fan-reviving dunk from Wayne Chism.
11:05 pm: 79-69, Tenn, 1:42 left. If the Vols could make their free throws, this game would be over a long time ago.
11:07 pm: 81-69, Tenn. Defensively, Tennessee has been stepping up since the return of Wayne Chism. In particular, Dick Vitale’s man crush has had the game of his life in his last career home game.
11:10 pm: 84-73, Tenn, 1:00 left. Florida can’t hit their shots, and this game is pretty much over.
11:15 pm: 86-74, Tenn. One final standing ovation for Dickie V’s man-crush. He really deserved it; he played harder than anyone else on the court.
11:17 pm: It’s official: Tennessee wins, 86-76. Tennessee finishes undefeated at home, and at 21-9, 9-6 in the SEC and with a signature win under their belt, they have certainly cemented their status in the NCAAs. Florida, on the other hand, has lost 3 of their last 4. More importantly, they have looked thoroughly unimpressive, acting as though they were not mentally in it. In the second half they showed a flash of the brilliance they’re capable of, but they need to do that for 40 minutes from this point on if they are serious about defending their title.