The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center - Gainesville, FL

Finney-Smith leads UF past UT 66-49

3132 days ago
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Dorian Finney-Smith had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back from suspension, and Florida beat Tennessee 66-49 Saturday to give coach Billy Donovan his 500th career victory.

Finney-Smith missed the last three games for an undisclosed violation of team rules, and Donovan failed to reach the milestone in two chances on the road.

He got it at home as the Gators (14-15, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) won for just the second time in eight games. Donovan became the second-youngest coach in Division I history to reach 500 wins. Bob Knight was the youngest and the only other one to do it before the age of 50.

Tennessee (14-14, 6-10) lost its fifth straight and ninth in 11 games. Armani Moore led the Vols with 18 points.

The Gators won their fourth in a row in the series, and no one could have predicted how the latest one would unfold. Then again, maybe Tennessee's last game offered a glimpse.

Vanderbilt made 16 of 19 shots, including 9 of 11 from 3-point range, in the second half against Tennessee on Thursday night. The Vols were nearly as porous with their matchup-zone defense at Florida.

The Gators shot a blistering 69.6 percent in the first half, making 16 of 23 shots and 7 of 11 from behind the arc. They had seven dunks, seven treys and recorded 14 assists on 16 baskets.

Florida closed the first half on a 15-4 run, building a 40-22 lead at the break.

Finney-Smith was a big part of the surge. Coming off the bench for the third time this season, he hit consecutive 3s and then added a nifty, left-handed reverse layup. Devin Robinson hit a trey, Jon Horford added a dunk and Kasey Hill capped the spurt with a floater in the lane just before the buzzer.

With Finney-Smith leading the way, Florida extended the lead to 23 points early in the second half.

The Gators coasted from there.

Hill bounced back from a brutal performance -- he was 1-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line at Missouri -- by driving through Tennessee's zone and creating easy baskets. He finished with a game-high eight assists.

Eli Carter, who missed practice this week with strep throat, scored 11 points.

Even center Chris Walker and walk-on Jacob Kurtz pitched in.

It was one of Florida's most complete games of the season. And it came without leading scorer Michael Frazier II, who missed his sixth consecutive game because of a high-ankle sprain.

But this night belonged to Donovan, who is expected to be honored with the game ball before Tuesday night's home finale against Texas A&M. Minutes after the victory, Florida announced Donovan's milestone and showed a montage of his accomplishments on video boards.

Most expected Donovan to get No. 500 in January, but it's been a rare down year for Florida.

Donovan won 20 or more games in 16 consecutive seasons before this year, advancing to the Elite Eight the last four seasons. But injuries, suspensions and under-performers have the Gators needing to win the SEC tournament to make the NCAA field.


Tennessee: First-year coach Donnie Tyndall worked Billy Donovan camps to hone his skills. ... Tennessee still leads the all-time series 72-55.

Florida: Donovan is the 23rd fastest to reach 500 wins based on games coached.


Tennessee plays at LSU on Wednesday.

Florida hosts Texas A&M on Tuesday.