Image Credit: Tim Casey/UAA
No. 19 Florida Gators basketball (14-5, 5-2 SEC) dropped its second straight game in its worst loss of the season, falling 68-66 at home on Saturday afternoon to the Vanderbilt Commodores (9-10, 3-4 SEC).
Though the shooting performance was improved from the horrific effort on Wednesday at South Carolina, Florida was basically a one-man band on Saturday and failed to defend Vanderbilt’s outside shot, a significant reason it was unable to pull out a victory.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest loss below.
It was over when … With the ball down two with seven seconds remaining, the Gators settled for an off-balance, contested and rushed corner three from sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen, the team’s hot hand of the day. While there were other moments in the game that led more directly to the loss — more on that in a bit — Allen’s shot was ill-advised as Florida only needed two points and had enough time to set up something to get a player open.
Exceptional effort: Allen was Mr. Do-Everything for the Gators on Saturday, scoring a game-high 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting, draining 5-of-12 threes and making all four of his free throws. Also efficient on the afternoon was junior forward Devin Robinson, who made 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added six boards.
Turning points: Florida turned a five-point lead into a seven-point deficit by allowing Vanderbilt to knock off a 12-0 run as UF went scoreless for three-plus minutes. As they did much of the day, the Gators relented two open threes during that run. Though Florida responded with a 7-0 run of its own to tie the game at 56 with five minutes to play, it took a fantastic opportunity to pull away against a physically overmatched opponent at home. It squandered that chance and had to match baskets the rest of the way.
Late in the contest, senior point guard Kasey Hill drove the lane but was not called for a foul despite being obviously hacked on the arm. Not only that, after losing the offensive rebound, Robinson firmly planted his feet and was run over by a Vanderbilt player. Instead of VU getting an offensive foul, Robinson was charged with a blocking foul, sending the Commodores to the line for two free throws that gave it a three-point lead and eventual victory.
Odds and ends: Aside from Allen and Robinson, the Gators shot 11-of-30 from the field and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc … Florida was dominating the glass in the first half (21-13) but was much less aggressive and effective in the paint over the final 20 minutes … after the bench playing a massive role in victories over the last few weeks, often leading the team in scoring, it posted just eight points on Saturday with graduate transfer G Canyon Barry missing both threes and not attempting a single free throw … the Gators were better from the line (6 of 8) but missed their final two attempts, both in the final minutes of the game.
What it means: Florida had prevoiusly not suffered a bad loss on the season with all four prior defeats coming to ranked opponents (and all 14 victories coming against unranked opponents). Not only is Vanderbilt unranked, it is below .500 on the season. The only saving grace is a Commodores RPI of 77. Still, it’s a bad loss for the Gators and a second straight defeat at that. Things will not be any easier because …
Up next: Florida will play the first of two consecutive road when it travels to LSU on Wednesday for a late 9 p.m. ET tip. The game will air live nationally on SEC Network.