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Wade Payne, Associated Press
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin directs his team in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 67-56.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee freshman guard Josh Richardson thinks the Volunteers' first big victory of the season came at a pretty good time.

After struggling through their nonconference schedule, the Vols (8-7, 1-0) opened the Southeastern Conference win with a 67-56 victory against No. 19 Florida on Saturday. Richardson says that win makes them confident they can continue to win in the SEC.

That's important, considering the tough stretch Tennessee is facing. The Vols travel to No. 20 Mississippi State on Thursday before hosting second-ranked Kentucky on Saturday.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin thought his team's effort against the Gators was its best of the season on both ends of the court. The Vols held Florida to season-low 56 points and 35.7 percent shooting while hitting 51 percent of their own shots.