Gators Escape Tennessee 56-49, Advance to SEC Final

The Gators seemed like an impeccable team leading up to their game against the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC semifinals. In the game, they were given a run for their money.

Coming into the second half, the Florida Gators were down by seven points. The game was kept close all the way to the end. Leading up to five minutes remaining, Tennessee’s Jeronne Maymon is called for a foul, and is then given a technical for arguing with the referee. Michael Frazier II would make both technical foul free throws. Patric Young followed up with two free throws of his own from the original foul. 

After a quick foul, Jarnell Stokes went to the line for Tennessee. He missed the first shot, but made the second to narrow Florida’s lead to 4 with 4:25 left in the game. Dorian Finney-Smith, the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year, fouled out of the game for Florida with 4:02 left in the game, leaving the Gators shorthanded in size. 

With 2:35 left in the game, Jordan McRae tied the game up for Tennessee at 49 with a three pointer. Patric Young quickly made a statement for Florida by making a basket with two minutes left in the game. On Tennessee’s next possession, the Gators made a huge steal. Nothing came of the steal but Frazier II made a block on the next Tennessee possession in which the Gators recovered the ball. Casey Prather was able to get a breakaway, but was fouled with 1:21 left in the game. After review a flagrant one was issued, and Prather made both free throws.

After the flagrant, Florida maintained possession for an inbound pass. The ball was given to star senior Scottie Wilbekin. He was heavily guarded by Antonio Barton. After raising his arms to attempt a pass, it looked as if Wilbekin had elbowed Barton in the nose. Wilbekin was assessed an offensive foul, but the referees went to review the play to see if it was a flop on Barton’s part. Replays clearly showed a late reaction by Barton after Wilbekin had raised his arms. Despite this, the foul was still assessed. After the call, Barton had made an obvious smirk. When asked about the play after the game, Wilbekin stated, “I nicked him a little, but he sold it.”

Tennessee was not able to get any production for the rest of the game. During garbage time, Tennessee made a desperation foul on Scottie Wilbekin. He made one of the two free throws with 15 seconds still on the clock. Tennessee yet again made a desperate foul with two seconds left in the game on Patric Young. He sank both free throws to seal the game as a 56-49 Florida Gator win. 

The Florida Gators will face the Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC Final.

-Ricky 

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