KNOXVILLE - Cuonzo Martin made two changes to his starting lineup for the first time this season.
The Tennessee basketball coach's move paid off in a big way.
The Volunteers opened up Southeastern Conference play with a resounding 67-56 upset against 13th-ranked Florida in front of 17,689 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.
Guard Jordan McRae and center Kenny Hall were benched in favor of freshman Josh Richardson and Renaldo Woolridge. Both McRae (10 points) and Hall (13 points and five rebounds) scored in double-figures off the bench. Jeronne Maymon was back to his bruising ways down low, scoring 12 points with seven rebounds.
The biggest key for the Vols, though, was their defense. Florida entered the game averaging 85 points on 48-percent shooting, but the Gators shot just 36 percent on Saturday. Florida's starting backcourt of Erving Walker, Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton combined to make just 11 of 32 shots.
Trae Golden added 10 points, three rebounds and seven assists for UT. The sophomore made a 3-pointer right before halftime to give the Vols a 33-29 lead. After Florida opened the second half with a bucket, Richardson canned a trey, and the Gators never got closer than five the rest of the way.
UT led by as many as 16 in the second half.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...