FINAL: FLORIDA 66, VANDERBILT 57
Gainesville, FL –Florida narrowly escaped from the clutches of defeat tonight as they knocked SEC East foe, Vanderbilt. In what has been a common theme for the Gators this season, the offense struggled and sputtered along throughout the contest. In fact, the Gators’ leading scorer on the season, KeVaughn Allen was ineffectual on the offensive side of the ball.
Allen finished the game with only six points, well below his per game average of 16.7 PPG against SEC competition. The first of Allen’s points didn’t come until he sank a pair of free throws at the 3:17 mark in the second half.
Last season’s second leading scorer, Jalen Hudson was one of just two Gators in double digits for the night. Hudson led all Gators off the bench with ten points, while it was the freshman Keyontae Johnson who led the team with fifteen points.
If not for Florida’s defense, this season would look far more bleak than its dismal 13-11 record. As it were, the Gators defensive play deserves all of the credit for tonight’s win. Florida forced the Commodores into turning the ball over nineteen times, resulting in twenty-nine points.
When you factor in the points off of turnovers with the twenty-three points Florida scored at the charity stripe, it becomes much more clear just how much the offense struggles to manufacture points on their own.
The Gators finished the night with a paltry, four assists and plenty of moments where we are left to question why a player took the shot rather than attempting to pass it off for a better look. When you live and die by the three-ball, creating the open look is paramount. Florida won’t survive too many games going twenty-two percent from beyond the arc.
Game Trends: Despite the ups and downs and everything in between, the Gators find themselves in the first four out. They must finish out their SEC schedule strong in order to still have a shot at making it to the dance.
Defense is this team’s bread and butter and they will need to continue creating turnover opportunities as they did tonight to assist a struggling offense. Not only did they force Vanderbilt to make mistakes, but they kept them off balance and out of rhythm for much of the night.
Aaron Nesmith was the lone Commodore to reach double digits and he posted nearly half of Vanderbilt’s scoring. Florida did enough to prevent him from having any help, harassing the other starters and making the bench relatively benign.
- KeVaughn Allen managed only six points in tonight’s game but he made them count, building a lead very late in the game.
- Freshman Keyontae Johnson led all Gators with fifteen points.
- Florida’s bench played well tonight, adding twenty-nine points in relief.
Florida travels to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide (15-9, 6-5) on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on ESPNU.