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No. 12 Florida Gators basketball (24-7, 14-4 SEC) ended the regular season with a massive thud, falling 73-71 on the road in Nashville, Tennessee, to the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-14, 10-8 SEC). VU completed the season sweep of UF and in doing so likely took away any chance of the Gators earning a No. 3 seed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest loss below.
It was over when … Though the game technically ended seconds later, it was sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen missing a rushed, contested three from the corner with 31.7 seconds remaining that allowed Vanderbilt to extend its newfound lead to three and hold on for the victory. The teams traded free throws down the stretch with the Gators actually having two chances to tie the game with a two-pointer. The second chance was a last-second heave, but the first was an out-of-control coast-to-coast drive by senior point guard Kasey Hill that resulted in a missed layup.
How a lead was blown: Florida saw its lead dip to a single basket early in the second half but responded with a 12-2 run to take a game-high 12-point lead with as many minutes remaining. The Gators nursed a nine-point lead from there, but a sudden Commodores 14-3 run gave the hosts an advantage with three minutes to play for the first time since the 9:34 mark of the first half. UF went scoreless for nearly three minutes as it chose not to pass the ball and jacked up three straight attempts from beyond the arc. When Florida tied the contest with 2:15 to play, it once again chose to stop moving the rock but this time drove straight to the hoop on three straight possessions, resulting in one make, a turnover and a bad shot.
The result was the Gators missing five of their last seven shots and four of their last five treys while committing eight turnovers in the second half compared to just five assists. It was a disastrous finish for a team that is supposed to be disciplined and one that will cost them in more ways than one.
First half focus: Florida found itself in an early 9-2 deficit but responded quickly with a 26-12 extended stretch, including eight straight points from Allen as part of a 10-0 run, to take a nine-point lead with 7:22 until the break. Vanderbilt bit into that advantage as the half went on, but UF closed the opening 20 minutes with a buzzer-beating driving layup from junior forward Devin Robinson to retake that nine-point edge midway through the game.
Exceptional efforts: Graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry, who was not on the court on the final possessions of the game, went 6-for-11 from the field with 15 points. He was the only true standout player, particularly because Allen’s 13 points all came in the first half and he went absolutely cold in the latter 20 minutes, even missing consecutive free throws. Barry did that as well — strange as both are 89 percent free throw shooters — but those free throws were not the reason for Florida’s loss on Saturday.
Significant stats: Florida committed 13 turnovers and had just 10 assists on the afternoon and did an absolutely awful job distributing the ball in the second half. A large part of that fell on Hill, who committed five turnovers in the first 25 minutes he was on the court and took a number of bad shots late in the contest. Junior point guard Chris Chiozza, on the other hand, had no giveaways and four dimes.
Odds and ends: The Gators were previously 23-0 this season when leading with five minutes remaining … Florida is 0-4 against Vanderbilt under White with three losses by two points or less … UF is now 17-47 against VU in Nashville … the loss was only White’s 10th against an unranked opponent over the last two seasons … it was also only White’s 10th loss when scoring 70+ points in a game … Allen went 0-for-2 from the field and the line in the second half, going scoreless after posting 13 points in the first 20 minutes … sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes only played 10 minutes as White preferred a smaller lineup against Vanderbilt
What it means: Though the Gators already had the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament locked up, Florida is likely now on the outside looking in for a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament after dropping two of its last three games. UF would likely need to win the SEC Tournament to improve its seeding, and an early exit from the SEC Tournament could actually push the Gators down a seed line if they’re not careful. Vanderbilt remains the only SEC team White has not defeated, and while Florida has looked good this season, its two worst losses are to the same team.
Up next: The Gators will try and regroup before opening play in the SEC Tournament on Friday against a yet-to-be determined opponent.