ATLANTA – As the game turned: With the game tied and less than five minutes remaining, Jerronne Maymon went just a little too far.
After picking up a foul — his fourth — down low, the senior forward voiced his frustration with the call to referee Pat Adams, continuing to jaw with the referee after the fact.
Maymon made a shoving motion with his body, seemingly to describe the equal amount of contact going on between him and Florida big man Patric Young.
“They’d been bumping and cutting the whole game,” Maymon said. “He (Young) leaned in with his shoulder. I took the contact, (the ref) called the foul and I was trying to explain my case.”
The explanation, however, didn’t sit well with Adams, and he stuck Maymon with a technical —his fifth and final foul of the game.
“I guess I was a little too hostile,” Maymon said. “I apologize to the teammates and the coaching staff. They expect better from me.”
Afterwards, Young and Michael Frazier each knocked down a pair of free throws, and Florida took a 49-45 advantage — their largest lead of the second half at the time.
Just three minutes later, with the Gators still up by four, controversy again swirled through the Georgia Dome as the Vols looked to mount one last comeback attempt in the final minutes.
As Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin possessed the ball on the wing, he appeared to catch Antonio Barton in the face with an inadvertent elbow. The Gator point guard's actions seemed potentially worthy of a flagrant — which would’ve given the Vols two free throws and the ball — but the call was subsequently reduced to just a player control foul upon review.
“I was just trying to rip the ball through and get into the middle of the floor,” Wilbekin said, “and my elbow nicked his chin, I think, a little bit. But he did a good job of selling it.”
The Vols, however, still gained possession, but Armani Moore missed a corner three, thus eliminating any threat of a UT comeback.
“It’s the No. 1 team in the country,” Stokes said. “You don’t expect to get those calls. I’m not going to complain about any call that didn’t go our way.”
Hot topic: As UT now awaits the results of Selection Sunday to determine which route their season ultimately takes in the final weeks, it’s vividly clear which side of the bubble the Vols believe they sit on — even after Saturday’s loss.
“I feel like it’s really a no-brainier that we should be in (the NCAA tournament),” Jarnell Stokes said. “This is the No. 1 team in the country, and we played them down to the wire.”
Going into the SEC tournament semifinal game, most bracketologists had the Vols making the field of 68, avoiding the First Four matchups in Dayton, Ohio, as well.
“We’re an NCAA (tournament) team,” a confident Maymon said.
The other guys: Young led the Gators with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Wilbekin, the conference’s Player of the Year, chimed in with 14.
Outside the box score: The Vols had 16 turnovers, their highest total since Jan. 11 in a loss to Texas A&M.
Say something: When asked if he considered a loss might be more beneficial given the Gators' sluggish start, Florida head coach Billy Donovan jokingly said: “I'm not quite sure how to answer that. That really never crossed my mind. When you're in there competing, you're trying to win.”
By the numbers:
15.4: The Vols shot just 15 percent from deep (2-of-13).
0: Wilbekin didn’t have a field goal in the second half.
30: The Vols only had 30 rebounds, their lowest total of the season.
Up next: Selection Sunday will determine the Vols’ future plans for the 2014 season.