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Fresh off big wins, No. 18 Arkansas, Florida to face each other

No two Southeastern Conference teams had better weekends that ended with fantastic results than No. 18 Arkansas and Florida.

Now they get to face each other.

In another crucial week of SEC play, the Razorbacks (21-6, 10-4 SEC) will play Tuesday in Gainesville, Fla., where they will face the Gators (17-10, 7-7) for the only time this regular season.

On a Saturday when three of the conference's Top 25 squads suffered defeats, Arkansas and Florida were on the winning side of two of them.

For the Razorbacks, their 58-48 win over Tennessee marked the second time in four games that coach Eric Musselman's crew rocked a ranked SEC foe.

After knocking off No. 1 Auburn 80-76 in overtime on Feb. 8 -- prompting its home fans to storm the court -- Arkansas did the same to Tennessee.

The Volunteers entered the contest ranked 16th, but they struggled to score and could not match the hard work of the home side.

Up 44-42 with under seven minutes left in their first of two meetings with Tennessee, the Razorbacks took control in the remaining time by outscoring the visitors 14-6 for the win. The Arkansas defense allowed just two field goals in the final eight minutes.

"I thought we defended at a real high level," Musselman said. "They cut so hard, they move the ball and are a high-assist team. They play three point guards at times and push the ball.

"But our team is really buying in and understanding our defensive game plan. We're not always cosmetically pleasing offensively, but, man, do we play hard. ... I'm going to just keep saying it: Nobody plays harder in the country than this team does right now."

Jaylin Williams epitomized the gritty play of the Razorbacks, as he produced 13 points and 16 rebounds while drawing four offensive fouls by Tennessee.

Arkansas' lone victory in Gainesville was a 94-85 showing in 1995.

Florida staved off a late charge by then-No. 2 Auburn Saturday at home in a record-setting matchup.

Tyree Appleby was dynamic in a game in which both offenses found it hard to score.

Leading 22-21 at the halftime break, Florida soon found itself trailing 35-26 inside the first five minutes of the second half.

Appleby tallied 20 of his 26 points in the second half and overall was 5 of 10 shooting from long range and 7 of 8 from the foul line.

Down 61-53 after Appleby's final of his five treys, the Tigers fought back to trail by just a point with 10 seconds to go.

Following a steal and a timeout, Wendell Green Jr. failed to get off a shot as time expired -- prompting Gator fans to storm the court for the first time since beating TCU in a 1986 NIT game.

The upset marked the highest-ranked team the Gators have beaten at home in school history.

"Happy for them they got a chance to have that moment postgame, for sure," coach Mike White said. "Pretty special."

The triumph was particularly special because Florida improved to 2-7 in Quad 1 wins as it chases an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.

Its other Q1 tally was in the championship game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off, a 71-68 win over Ohio State on Appleby's buzzer-beating three on Nov. 24.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 21, 2022

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