|College Basketball Odds: Florida at Tennessee Spread, Preview & Public Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2008 11:00|
Strong Against Gators
Florida has won the last two national championships, but hasn't posed much of a problem for SEC rival Tennessee lately. The Gators might seem like even less of a challenge for Tennessee now that they've fallen out of the Top 25.
The No. 7 Volunteers (19-2, 6-1) go for their fourth win in five games against the Gators (18-4, 5-2), who haven't been unranked for a game against Tennessee in three years.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Tennessee –9.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Tennessee –9.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
Tennessee's three wins in four games over Florida came over Gators teams that were ranked No. 2, No. 12 and No. 5. The Vols' only loss in that stretch was a 94-78 defeat on the road against the top-ranked Gators on Feb. 3 of last season.
This season's Tennessee team appears to have a good chance of sustaining that success against Florida, which fell out of the Top 25 this week after spending just one week in the poll. The Gators were No. 20, but dropped out after an 80-61 loss at Arkansas on Saturday.
The Vols, meanwhile, maintained their hold on the No. 7 spot with road victories over Alabama and Mississippi State.
"We take a lot of pride on trying to get a win on the road because a lot of teams ain't going to go in someone else's gym and get a win in our conference," senior guard JaJuan Smith said.
Smith had 15 points and five rebounds, and Chris Lofton added 20 points with four 3-pointers as Tennessee held off Mississippi State's rally to win 76-71 on Saturday.
Lofton has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, averaging 23.0 points, 53.6 percent shooting from the field and 51.2 percent (21-for-41) from 3-point range in that stretch. The senior guard averaged only 15.0 points, 38.2 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc in his first 20 games this season.
The Vols return to Knoxville, where they have Division I's fourth-longest home win streak. They've won 27 in a row at Thompson-Boling Arena, including 11 this season.
With a win over Florida, Tennessee can match the second-longest home win streak in school history, set Feb. 18, 1935-March 1, 1937. Its longest home win streak is 33 games from Jan. 2, 1966-Feb. 24, 1968.
The Vols, whose last home loss was March 1, 2006 against Kentucky, have won four of their last five games in Knoxville against the Gators.
Florida will look to overcome Tennessee's home dominance and bounce back from Saturday's loss, which pitted Florida coach Billy Donovan against his former assistant John Pelphrey - now in his first season as head coach at Arkansas.
Donovan's team shot 33.3 percent from the field and was 4-for-25 from 3-point range, while allowing Arkansas to shoot 54.2 percent - a season high against the Gators.
"As a team, you go through off nights, and you have to stay focused and play defense," said Florida guard Walter Hodge, who led the team with 13 points. "That was the difference."
Hodge and the Gators might need an especially strong defensive effort against Lofton, who's averaging 19.2 points and shooting 53.3 percent from the field in five career games against Florida. He's 19-for-41 (46.3 percent) from 3-point range in those contests.
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