Vandy shuts door on Florida 77-67 in Nashville

By Adam Silverstein
February 28, 2012

The No. 13/16 Florida Gators entered Memorial Gymnasium on Senior Night in Nashville, TN looking to right the ship after a rough loss to Georgia and pull out a tough road victory. Though Florida (22-8, 10-5 SEC) dropped their second-straight game by double digits in a 77-67 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores (21-9, 10-5 SEC), the Gators did play with the energy and passion that head coach Billy Donovan was searching high and low for just three days ago.

Despite Florida’s renewed intensity, Vanderbilt’s three-point shooting was too much for their visitors to handle. The Commodores shot 12-of-24 from beyond the arc and were led by an impressive performance from guard John Jenkins, who finished 6-of-9 from long range and netted the first five treys he attempted.

Jenkins’s 22 points were a team-high for Vanderbilt, which also got double-digit scoring efforts from forward Jeffery Taylor (18 points) and center Festus Ezeli (11 points). The Commodores had 14 assists on 23 baskets and made 19 free throws, while the Gators had just seven dimes and hit just seven shots from the charity stripe.

Senior point guard Erving Walker scored 15 points with some impressive plays in the paint for the Gators, but freshman G Bradley Beal led the way with 16 points.

Junior G Kenny Boynton scored 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting from downtown, and sophomore C Patric Young had a team-high eight rebounds with four points coming from put-backs on two offensive boards.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the rest of the Florida-Vanderbilt game story.]Vanderbilt started hot by scoring the first seven points of the game and leading 10-2 as Florida shot a paltry 1-for-6 from the field. The Commodores extended their lead to a game-high 12 points as the Gators continued to struggle by hitting just 3-of-12 shots and committing four early turnovers.

Seven-straight points from Florida cut their deficit to five midway through the half as Vanderbilt went on a scoring drought that lasted nearly five full minutes. The Gators then used an 11-2 run including eight points from Walker (a four-point play and two dazzling layups) and a corner trey by sophomore PG Scottie Wilbekin to knot the game at 27 with 1:04 remaining until the break.

Taylor nailed a long triple for the Commodores with 35 seconds left in the half, spotting his team a three-point lead as the squads headed into the locker rooms.

Beginning the second half the same way they did the first, Vanderbilt scored five-straight points and increased their lead to eight. Florida was quick to answer this time, however, using a three-point play by Walker off of a steal as part of a 9-3 run that cut the home team’s advantage to three with 14:30 left.

The Gators kept the pressure on the Commodores and used a 5-0 scoring stretch including a three by Boynton and a dunk by sophomore F Casey Prather to take their first lead of the game at 50-49 with 10:34 remaining.

Vanderbilt refused to relent though, continuing to drain threes and quickly taking back the lead from Florida. The Commodores used a 9-3 run to go up seven points as the Gators missed five-of-six attempts from downtown over a two-minute stretch.

Another three from Boynton cut Florida’s deficit to four with 4:01 to play, but it was too late for the visitors as the home crowd and an energetic Vanderbilt team pulled away for the decisive victory.

The Gators outscored the Commodores 34-20 in the paint but could not match their host’s efforts from three. Florida also scored 17 points off of 12 forced turnovers and had 12 bench points, neither of which was enough to beat Vanderbilt in the end.

UF will look to put a halt to their two-game skid on Sunday when they host No. 1 Kentucky on Senior Day in Gainesville, FL. The game will air live on CBS at noon.[/EXPAND]

14 Comments

  1. zurbo says:

    This is going to be an ugly NCAA tourney appearance

  2. R says:

    Vanderbilt is now 10-5 in the SEC, not 9-6.

  3. cline says:

    We look lost

  4. Joe says:

    Hey somebody has to the the 5 seed that gets bounced in the opening round, might as well be us.

  5. ncgator says:

    2-guards, 2-forwards, 1-center. This is the line-up that gives you the best chance to compete day in and day out. It’s been this way since the inception of the game. For some reason, Bily can’t land the quality big men , or any big men for that matter, to get to the next level. A three guard rotation only goes so far and Patrick Young can only do so much. I’m sick of watching the little guys turn the ball over, go cold from the 3-point line and have no strategy to fall back on. These results are so predictable and the gators will be gone early. Billy, lose your love affair with the guards and get some big guys you can develop. It’s basic basketball!!!

  6. GatorCooken says:

    Scary thought is if patrick young leaves for the nba this year then we’ll have no big men at all. Any recruits headed our way over 6’8″” Adam?

  7. CeeThree says:

    I thought 2 huge plays down the stretch were Pat not dunking that ball, instead going up soft, missing, then fouling; and Erv’s traveling near the basket after the turnover on the inbounds set up by the press.

    • Tim says:

      Definitely. The Young play was a 4 point swing because of the fould right afterwards. If he makes it we are in a 4-5pt game and instead it became a 8-9pt game.

  8. Joe says:

    It’s obvious we need a Power Forward.

  9. MAR says:

    Patric Young has a lot of work to do to play in the NBA. He showed some fire yesterday, but only 4 points? And those were put backs. That is 0 true post up points. He would only benefit from another year in college. I would like to see him play hard against Davis on Sunday. Young got worked by the freshman last time. Rosario was no help yesterday and what was Walker thinking with that late travel right under the basket?!? Hopefully they will at least give Kentucky a game…..

  10. Jesse says:

    Looks like we’ll be one and done this year. However, if we don’t lose any underclassmen this year (no one is that good IMO), we should be a contender next year.

  11. Gator John says:

    Young should be back, but I think Beal goes after this year. How the team ends this season will not reflect on what the scouts think of him as a player, and his stock will remain high.

  12. CH says:

    I was at the Vandy game and it was clear that Beal was stepping into the role of leader on the team. I was thrilled to see Donavan ask someone other than Irving be that guy. Walker was feeling much more comfortable in his old role and it started showing on the court. I’ve hated on Walker all year but honestly felt a lot better about him after the Vandy game than I have all year.
    For those who haven’t visited Vanderbilt – it’s as difficult a place to play as anywhere in the country. And it was senior night – 4 senior starters. All that adds up to a huge obstacle to overcome. Not trying to sound optimitic, but there were some changes in the past few games that could have a very positive effect on the team going into tournament time.
    Young has ZERO offensive game – he’s not going anywhere (but then again I thought speights leaving early was the wrong choice…..)
    Beal could go, but has said before he wanted to stay at least two years and is now the leader of the team. I think he stays around.

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