Any progress the Florida Gators (12-10, 5-4 SEC) thought they made was diminished by their performance on Tuesday in a 66-51 wire-to-wire defeat at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores (12-10, 2-7 SEC). Florida started slow at Memorial Gym in Nashville Tennessee, and though it picked up its game at times in the second half, the Gators’ constant stream of miscues once gain led to its ultimate downfall as the final buzzer sounded.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Florida junior guard Michael Frazier II missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with six minutes to play, only to see Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance respond with a dagger trey seconds later that increased VU’s lead to 57-51. The Gators then put themselves in an even deeper hole as redshirt junior G Eli Carter fouled Wade Baldwin IV on a forced missed three, letting the Commodores jump ahead 60-51 with 4:44 remaining. UF did cut its deficit to five multiple times down the stretch but was never able to take advantage due to miscues and consistent fouling.
Prominent player: Frazier went the first 16:10 of the game without scoring a point but posted 16 of Florida’s 19 points on 4-for-5 shooting during a stretch that lasted seven minutes spanning the half. He finished with a game-high 21 points, hitting 4-of-6 threes and all five of his free throws to go along with five boards.
First half focus: Florida started 0-for-9 from the field, spotting Vanderbilt a 15-0 lead through the first 7:53 of the game before redshirt junior F Alex Murphy converted a layup to end the scoreless drought. The Gators responded with a 10-0 run including two more layups by Murphy over the next 2:52, cutting their deficit to five points midway through the half. However, the Commodores built their lead back up to 13 on a 9-2 run (including seven free throws) and took advantage of 12 UF fouls (resulting in 18 foul shots) and seven VU blocks to hold an eight-point lead at the break.
Perfect plays: Frazier and Carter hit some dagger threes throughout the contest that allowed Florida to keep the score closer than it should have been down the stretch. Still, the Gators finished just 6-of-17 from long range.
Standout stat: Florida’s horrible fouling habit reared its ugly head once again as the team committed 26 fouls in the contest, allowing Vanderbilt to enter the bonus (and double bonus) early in both halves. The foul shooting disparity was comical with the Commodores out-attempting the Gators 42-16 in the contest. VU has now attempted 179 free throws this season, 23.5 percent of them (42) coming against UF on Tuesday.
What it means: The Gators stunk. Florida was awful defensively throughout the contest, trying to stop Vanderbilt with its hands instead of its bodies. UF was also abhorrent offensively in the first half and just slightly better over the latter 20 minutes. It was an embarrassing loss for a Gators program that has dominated the Commodores, which were 1-7 in SEC play entering Tuesday, in recent years.
Next up: College GameDay will come to town as Florida hosts undefeated and top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday. The Gators swept the Wildcats 3-0 last season, and a dominating UK team is poised for revenge against a struggling UF squad.
Everything else: Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith fouled out (while diving for an offensive rebound) with 8:52 left in the game; he had four points on 2-of-6 shooting with four rebounds … Murphy fouled out with 28.6 seconds remaining …