Looking to take care of business as the SEC regular season comes to a close, No. 12 Florida Gators basketball heads on the road for the final time this year to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Gators-Dores.
Location: Memorial Gym — Nashville, Tennessee [Capacity: 14,316]
Time: 2 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN (Tom Hart, Kara Lawson)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|No. 12 Florida Gators||Vanderbilt Commodores|
|Head Coach||Mike White||Bryce Drew|
|Record||24-6 (14-3 SEC)||16-14 (9-8 SEC)|
1. Overcome the adversity: The Gators are going to be fighting against the crowd, a tough playing environment and recent history on Saturday. They are also looking to beat the only team White has not taken down as coach at Florida (0-3) and one it lost to 68-66 at home in its worst defeat of the season back on Jan. 21. If one remembers the last meeting, some difficult decisions by the referees really cost UF down the stretch, so it needs to make sure the game is not close enough for the uncontrollable factors to play into the finish.
2. Defend the three: Florida did a terrible job defending beyond the arc in the first meeting, allowing Vandy to hit 40 percent of its threes (10-of-25). Considering the Dores also went 12-of-13 from the line, the scoring efficiency of their opponent was incredibly difficult for the Gators to overcome. Considering UF is 14th nationally defending the three (.305), it can not afford to let the same thing happen again.
3. Scoring is a team effort: The Gators’ other issue in that first meeting was a one-man scoring effort as sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen was responsible for nearly half of Florida’s points (29 of 66). Only seven players scored points and just two registered double digit totals on the afternoon. With UF seemingly finding some renewed balance earlier in the week against Arkansas, the team needs to have built on that through the week to match-up with a tough VU team.
Spread: Florida -4 | O/U: OFF
This is one of the toughest calls of the season. Vanderbilt has plenty on the line Saturday, including a possible NCAA Tournament berth. Beat Florida and it’s in, lose and it would take a nice run in the SEC Tournament to make it happen. The Gators, on the other hand, are locked into the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament but are still fighting for NCAA Tournament seeding, which could be as high as a three with a little run or as low as a five if UF loses Saturday and gets knocked out of the SEC Tournament early by a bad team.
Still, despite all of that, I think this is the Gators’ game to lose. Florida is gearing up for much bigger fish than Vandy, and it should be plenty motivated to not get swept in the season series and over two full years against the team under White. The Commodores’ crowd and environment is going to be difficult for the Gators, but the visitors are the more talented team — particularly on defense.
VU is coming into this winning four of its last five games, while UF has taken 10 of its last 11 — both losses came to Kentucky. What’s interesting is that the Gators are actually 23-1 as favorites this season and the Dores are 6-9 as underdogs. Where things are rougher is that the teams are 6-5 on the road and 8-7 at home against the spread, respectively.
Florida is the pick here, even down a man and despite it being 0-3 against Vanderbilt under White, including a loss at home earlier this season.
2016 records: ATS picks 3-2 | O/U picks 4-1
» Out for season: C John Egbunu
» Vanderbilt is 68-63 all-time against Florida, and the Commodores own a 46-17 mark against the Gators in Nashville. UF is 0-3 against VU under White with two of those losses coming by two points or fewer. Vanderbilt is the only SEC team that White has not beaten since joining Florida.
» UF is 1-4 against AP Top 25 teams this season and 2-11 against such opponents under White. Florida is 43-9 against unranked opponents over the last two seasons.
» Not counting Senior Night, the Gators have only used two starting lineups all season with four of their five players starting every game to this point. However, nine different players have led UF in scoring through 30 games.
» Six of the 14 players on Florida’s roster were either not on the team or did not step on the court during the 2015-16 season.
» The Gators are 39-9 under White when scoring 70 points or more and 30-6 when giving up 69 points or fewer.
» Florida’s nine-game winning streak was its longest since winning 30 in a row during the 2013-14 campaign.
» Auburn is the only team this season that has reached or eclipsed its scoring average during regulation against UF. That occurred in a game in which the Gators set a program scoring mark with 114 points.