While much has been made about Florida’s outstanding play at home, the Gators are hoping to see that success finally carry over to the road.
Seeking its first road win of the season, No. 13 Florida looks to extend its winning streak over Tennessee to five when both teams open SEC play Saturday.
The Gators (12-3), whose average of 85.4 points ranks in the top five in the country, lead the nation with 169 made 3-pointers. They continued their hot outside shooting during Tuesday’s 79-61 win over UAB, making a season-high 15 3s in 27 attempts to post their 15th consecutive home victory.
Erving Walker and fellow guard Kenny Boynton went a combined 13 of 19 from beyond the arc.
“We don’t need any one person to score,” said Walker, who finished with a season-high 23 points. “Everybody collectively has been doing it for this team, so one person having a bad night or off night, someone else can pick up the slack at any time.
“I don’t think anyone’s shot terribly so far this year, so as long as we just move the ball and take good ones, I think we can continue to be a great shooting team.”
It remains to be seen, however, if Florida can do so as the visiting team.
After falling 81-74 at then-No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 15 and 72-68 at then-No. 4 Syracuse on Dec. 2, the Gators dropped to 0-3 on the road for the first time since 1997-98 with an 85-83 double-overtime defeat to Rutgers on Dec. 29.
Florida is averaging 75.0 points on the road and committing 18.0 turnovers per game there - 8.9 more than at home.
“We’ve seen the mistakes we’ve made on the road,” Boynton, whose average of 19.5 points ranks second in the league, told the school’s official website. “We have to see how we match up against another SEC team to know where we are. After the Tennessee game, we’ll know a little more.”
The defending regular-season conference champion Gators have won four in a row in the series. Included in that stretch is an 81-75 road victory in overtime Jan. 11 that snapped a five-game losing streak in Knoxville.
Tennessee (7-7) saw its season-best four-game winning streak come to an end with a 69-51 loss at Memphis on Wednesday. The Vols shot a season-worst 36.2 percent from the floor in posting their lowest scoring output of the season.
With very few positives to take away from Wednesday’s effort, Tennessee’s attention immediately turned to the Gators.
“I think our head is where we need to be. We just had a good talk in the locker room. We’re going to continue to make strides,” guard Trae Golden said. “I think Saturday morning when we play Florida, we’ll be ready. We’re going to get back to the gym tomorrow and just fix everything that we need to fix and make sure that everything works out fine for us.”
Golden has averaged 25.5 points - well above his team-best mark of 14.8 - and shot 61.3 percent while going 7 of 14 from beyond the arc over his last two games.
Tennessee has dropped eight of nine meetings with Top 25 opponents, the last two by a total of seven points - including a 99-97 double-overtime loss to then-No. 8 Memphis on Nov. 22.
Florida, which went 6-2 in conference play on the road in 2010-11, has won nine of its last 10 league openers.
“A whole new season is starting,” said freshman Bradley Beal, second on the team with 14.5 points per game. “We just really want to come in as a team, focus and play our game.”