Final: Florida 84, Vanderbilt 66
Florida came back home to take on Vanderbilt after a 17 point rout of Texas A&M on the road earlier this week.
After the rollercoaster of the year, Florida looks to have gained some traction late in the season as they make a push towards March Madness.
On a night littered with NBA players and the Gator legendary coach Billy Donovan (back for the first time since taking the Oklahoma City job) getting his name on the floor, Florida beat Vanderbilt for the second time in two weeks.
How it happened:
After a quick start the Gators lead 5-2 before both teams hit a scoring drought, Vanderbilt starting 1-5 from the field and Florida didn’t make a field goal starting at the 18:00 mark left in the half. This continued until the both teams broke this drought coming out of the media break. Florida pushed the lead to 13-5 with a 7-0 run over the next three minutes.
A whistle happy crew had both teams in the bonus before the midway point of the first half. Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson were both glued to the bench after picking up their second fouls early on. After a couple of buckets by both teams Vanderbilt hit a drought while Florida kept pushing extending the lead to 11 (22-11).
Back to back triples put Florida in the drivers seat early, followed up by a big time slam dunk by freshman Omar Payne. Noah Locke added another three and Florida lead 34-13 with five minutes to play.
A block by Scottie Lewis led to Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse losing his mind and receiving a double technical foul and earning an ejected with 22.6 left in the first half. Lewis hit all four of the accompanying free throws. Tre Mann then hit another triple as time expires to go up 48-19 at the half.
Florida was red hot to end the half, including a 7-0 run in the last 22 seconds. Florida shot 52% from the field and 58% from downtown, add in 15 free throws (71%, 15-21). Vanderbilt on the other hand shot just 22% from the field and did not hit a deep ball in the first half. Twenty six total foul calls were called n the first half of the game.
Vanderbilt hit two quick buckets at the start of the second forcing a Gator timeout. Vanderbilt added two 3’s to their score as Florida lead 56-29 at the first media timeout of the second half. Florida went on an 8-0 run over the span of four minutes to hold a 29 point lead with 10:00 to go.
Not too much happened in the last ten minutes as Florida dominated baseline to baseline from the tip. On a night that will be remembered for a long time in Gainesville, the Gators finally lived up to the preseason hype.
A historic day in Florida sports history as the Gators managed wins in Lacrosse (beat #1 ranked Maryland 15-14), softball, and baseball.
Johnson: 11 points, 3 assists, 6 rebounds
Locke: 19 points, 6 rebounds
Nembhard: 5 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound
Blackshear: 15 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds
Lewis: 9 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds
Rebounds +/-: +1
Florida will take on Arkansas at home on Tuesday looking to keep things rolling.