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Gators pull away to down Tennessee in SEC quarterfinals

Mar 12, 2011 - 5:33 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kenny Boynton led five Gators in double figures with 22 points, and No. 12 Florida played nearly flawless in the second half to down Tennessee, 85-74, in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Gators made one field goal over the final nine minutes of the first half, and turned it around in the final 20 minutes by hitting a scorching 14-of-17 from the field to easily erase a five-point halftime deficit.

"When you allow a team to score 56 points in the second half or shoot the way they shot and send them to the foul line as often as we sent them, you got no chance to win," Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl said.

Erving Walker notched 17 points and Vernon Macklin added 15 for Florida (25-6), which beat Tennessee three times this season and will face Vanderbilt in Saturday's semifinal round.

Tobias Harris led Tennessee with 25 points and eight rebounds while Scotty Hopson scored 19 points in defeat. The Volunteers (19-14) lost seven of their final 11 games to end a tumultuous regular season.

Florida, the No. 1 seed out of the East, was holding a 27-16 lead following a Macklin jumper with nine minutes left in the first half.

The Gators went cold from there, and Harris capped an 18-point first half and an 18-2 Tennessee run with a three-pointer for a 34-29 cushion at the break.

Chandler Parsons, the SEC Player of the Year, opened the second half with a three-point play, and Florida took the lead for good when Macklin's jumper broke a 50-50 tie with 12 minutes remaining.

The critical stretch came a few minutes later when Boynton converted a three- point play and drained a three-pointer on consecutive possessions, pushing the margin to 75-62 with 4 1/2 minutes showing.

Tennessee, the fifth seed in the East, only got within nine from there.

"I think it was just a matter of us taking good shots and getting our legs under us in the second half," Walker said of the turnaround. "We moved the ball better as a team and were getting shots in rhythm."

Game Notes

Florida, which has won nine of its last 10 games, has captured this tournament title three times...Parsons ended with 12 points and seven boards, while Alex Tyus chipped in 10 and five for Florida, which shot 59 percent overall...The Vols made 43 percent of their field goals.