There was a presence in Thompson-Boling Arena last night.
Whether it was the 19,567 fans sitting in the stands, or junior guard Jordan McRae who couldn't miss, or an animated Cuonzo Martin, something lit a fire under the Volunteers.
The Vols (17-10, 9-6 SEC) beat the No. 8 Florida Gators (22-5, 12-3 SEC) 64-58, adding another win to their current six-game streak.
Head coach Cuonzo Martin said beating a Top 10 team was a big win for his team.
"We beat a very talented team. A team with a lot of parts," Martin said. "Probably the best offensive team we've faced all year as far as movement and activity. They have multiple guys who can dribble the ball and make shots, make plays."
Florida head coach Billy Donovan said he thought the difference in the game was rebounding. He said he sees the Vols finishing the season at the top of the league. The Vols finished the night with 41 rebounds.
"I think they're really talented," Donovan said. "I made the comment at SEC media days that I think they should've been the favorite to win the league. I don't think there's any question. They have unbelievable talent. McRae has emerged to me to maybe be the best wing player in the league, and Stokes is clearly one of the best frontcourt players."
Martin on the sideline was much more enthusiastic and expressive than usual.
He said he was just was proud of the way the Vols fought for the win.
"I thought they did a great job. Probably the best job all season as far as communicating on both ends of the floor. Hats off to those guys."
McRae had fans on their feet more than once. He opened the night with a crowd-amping dunk and finished with 27 points, four assists and seven rebounds.
"I was just thinking 'go in.' I didn't want to ding one off on ESPN with 20,000 (watching)," McRae said. "So once I made I was really hype and the crowd was into it. That was the best way to start the game for a player: a dunk."
"Jordan McRae did a good job of scoring the ball and being aggressive, carrying out those assignments and those opportunities to score offensively," Martin said. "He did a great job of working the game and trying to get open looks."
Sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes found himself in early foul trouble, but managed to curb his aggression and focus on much-need rebounds late. He ended the night with eight points and 14 rebounds, nine of which came in the second half.
"I've been dealing with that all season," Stokes said regarding foul trouble. "It's one of my hardest things, that and getting double-teamed. I think I am pretty much prepared for that.
Martin was proud of the way Stokes' aggressiveness, regardless of the fouls.
"Jarnell did another good job of attacking the glass and getting big rebound, especially late (in the game), keeping the ball alive," Martin said.
The Vols trailed throughout much of the first half, but went into the second half ahead by three. With three ties and four lead changes, it played an emotional toll on the crowd. Stokes said the fans played an important role in the final outcome of the game.
"I think the crowd was definitely loud tonight. They came out and really wanted us to win," he said. "I think the Vols have one of the best fan bases in the country."
The Vols streak will once again be on the line as they head to Athens, Ga., Saturday. Their matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs is set for a 1:30 p.m. EST tip-off.