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No. 18 Tennessee trounces Ole Miss; Alabama upsets No. 23 Florida

 

By The Associated Press

 

 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee men's basketball coach Rick Barnes usually finds some reason to criticize his team's performance even after lopsided wins. 

 

Not this time. 

 

Grant Williams and Lamonte' Turner scored 17 points each to lead five players in double figures Saturday night as No. 18th Tennessee trounced Ole Miss 94-61 for their fifth straight victory. 

 

In the second half, Tennessee scored 59 points while shooting 71.4 percent (20 of 28). The Volunteers were 10 of 14 from 3-point range. 

 

"Probably obviously the best half of the year we've played," Barnes said. "When the ball's going in, it makes everything look good." 

 

The blowout enabled Tennessee (17-5, 7-3 SEC) to move into sole possession of second place in the Southeastern Conference. The Vols began the day in a three-way tie for second with No. 21 Kentucky and No. 23 Florida, which both lost Saturday. 

 

Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield said the Vols won't get distracted by their rise in stature. Schofield said the Vols haven't forgotten how the SEC media projected them to finish 13th in the 14-team conference. 

 

"We were picked 13th to start the season, so we're always in the locker room thinking how can we get out of that 13th position," said Schofield, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds. 

 

Tennessee has won eight of its last nine games while Ole Miss (11-12, 4-6) has dropped five of its last six. With eight games remaining in the regular season, Tennessee already has exceeded its 2016-17 win total. The Vols finished 16-16 last year. 

 

Tennessee showed its enormous potential in a brilliant second-half performance. The Vols outscored Ole Miss 59-36 after halftime. They had 27 assists and only six turnovers for the game, including a 17-1 ratio in the second half. 

 

"Today obviously was an avalanche," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "Unfortunately, we were under it." 

 

Kyle Alexander scored 14 points and Jordan Bowden added 10 for Tennessee. Bruce Stevens scored 16 points and Terence Davis added 13 for Ole Miss. 

 

n Alabama 68, No. 23 Florida 50: At Gainesville, Florida, Alabama coach Avery Johnson had a "conversation" at halftime with his team, a "great talk" about reducing turnovers and making better decisions. 

 

His message was loud and clear. It was well-received, too. 

 

Collin Sexton scored 17 points, Donta Hall notched his fourth double-double of the season, and Alabama rallied from a 10-point deficit to thump No. 23 Florida Saturday. 

 

Sexton added eight rebounds and six assists for the Crimson Tide (15-8, 6-4), which dominated the second half and improved to 2-4 on the road. 

 

"We basically looked like we had never practiced before in our lives offensively in the first half, throwing the ball all over the gym, too many turnovers," Johnson said, noting his team's 14 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. 

 

Johnson ripped into his players in the locker room, and they responded in resounding fashion. The Tide scored the first eight points of the second half and later used a 15-2 run to open up a double-digit lead. 

 

Alabama dominated Florida (15-8, 6-4) in the paint, on the glass and up and down the floor. The Tide outscored the Gators 41-17 in the second half, finishing with a 43-25 rebounding advantage and outscoring them 46-26 in the paint and 29-1 off the bench. 

 

"The halftime talk was a great talk," Hall said. "We came out with a better mindset, more focus. ... Crashing the boards, getting easy looks, finding the open man." 

 

Sexton did the most damage, dribbling through Florida's defense and creating open layups and dunks. 

 

Hall was one of the beneficiaries. He made all seven shots and finished with 14 points and 11 boards. Fellow forward Braxton Key chipped in 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. 

 

"The defensive performance we gave in the second half was discouraging to say the least," Florida coach Mike White said. 

 

The Gators had no answer for Alabama's speed at guard and athleticism in the paint. 

 

They lost their third consecutive SEC game, the first time that's happened since the end of White's first season in 2016, and surely won't be ranked Monday. 

 

"If we don't make wholesale changes, we're going to continue to have peaks and valleys," White said. "We'll continue to be average." 

 

KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 16 points. Keith Stone had 12, and Egor Koulechov added 11. 

 

"It's pretty frustrating because I know that the players are mad, I know that the coaches are mad, I know that the fans are mad," Stone said. "So we've just got to turn around and do better."

 

 

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