Florida vs. Vanderbilt score: Gators manage win despite horrid performance

By Adam Silverstein
February 13, 2019
Florida vs. Vanderbilt score: Gators manage win despite horrid performance

Image Credit: UAA Communications

In one of their worst performances of the season, the Florida Gators somehow prevailed against the worst team in the SEC, picking up a 66-57 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, to snap a three-game losing streak. Despite another poor shooting night, the Gators (13-11, 5-6 SEC) earned a key victory in a must-win game against the Commodores (9-15, 0-11 SEC), which remained winless in league play.

Let’s take a look at what went down in Florida’s latest win.

It was over when … Senior guard KeVaughn Allen, who was held scoreless for most of the game, hit a turnaround baseline jumper with 1:30 to play for his first basket of the game. The make put the Gators up nine against a ‘Dores team that struggled shooting just as much as the hosts did on Wednesday night. An Allen turnover just seconds later allowed Vanderbilt to score twice to cut Florida’s lead to five with 52.8 seconds left, but UF did hang on from there.

Florida led by as many as 11 in the game, but Vanderbilt closed the first half on a 23-9 stretch to lead 33-31 at halftime. The Gators had a 10-0 run spanning halftime to retake the lead moments into the second half and never lost it despite struggling to score all night.

Exceptional efforts: Redshirt senior G Jalen Hudson was a rare bright spot in the game despite going 2-for-7 from the field. Hudson at one point scored seven straight points (five at the line, where he was 6 of 8) to allow the Gators to keep the short advantage they built in the second half. Freshman forward Keyontae Johnson actually posted a team-high 15 points, making all six of his free throws and adding a game-high nine rebounds.

Odds and ends: Allen and freshman G Noah Locke combined to go 2-for-19 from the field and 1-for-13 from beyond the arc with nine total points … Florida shot below 40 percent from the field for the 13th time in 24 games this season (.333) … the Gators stunningly made just 19-of-15 shots and 5-of-22 threes … UF had 16 second-chance points on 14 offensive rebounds and had four such boards on a single possession … Gators coach Mike White is now 2-6 against Vanderbilt with the victory

What it means: Florida managed not to stick a fork in its postseason chances, which would have been the result should it had lost to winless (in conference) Vanderbilt. Still, there’s little to be pleased about coming out of this game considering how poorly the Gators played buzzer to buzzer. At home coming off three straight losses, Florida should have been up for this game against an opponent it could have rolled over. Instead, it had to fight for 40 minutes against the worst team in the league. It’s quite possible that UF loses with a performance like that against the other three teams below it in the SEC standings. It is tough to build confidence when you shoot 33.3 percent and see starters like senior center Kevarrius Hayes only play 13 minutes because of constant foul trouble.

The Gators will get every benefit of the doubt from the selection committee because of their insanely difficult schedule, but they still have to earn an NCAA Tournament berth by winning games that are relevant and not looking horrible in others. They have yet to do that down the stretch this season, and at 13-11, are lucky to be on most analysts’ “first four out” lists.

Up next: Florida heads back out on the road when it takes on Alabama on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPNU. That will mark the first game of the Gators’ third back-to-back road stretch already in SEC play.

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