Three Takeaways From Florida's 84-66 Win Over Vanderbilt
The tears were falling, and so were the shots.
On Saturday night, the basketball court inside the Stephen C. O'Connell Center became Billy Donovan Court. The former Florida coach was in attendance for the court dedication along with many of his former players. A tribute video was made in his honor at halftime and Donovan gave a speech. It was emotional for him and many others in Gator Nation.
And also on Saturday night, a basketball game happened. The Gators dismantled Vanderbilt 84-66 to improve to 16-9 overall (8-4 SEC). Along with a satisfying win for coach Mike White's group, were a few noticeable things.
On the Vanderbilt side of things, not much stood out other than coach Jerry Stackhouse's all-green "Gator killer" suit and his ejection from the game. But for Florida, this game said a few things about this team, here are three.
The Gators become lethal when Noah Locke is on
Guard Noah Locke has been streaky throughout this year. Before Saturday, he had shot the three-ball as well as 75 percent and as poorly as zero percent, when he went an embarrassing 0-7 from beyond the arc against Florida State.
But on Saturday, he tied his season-high percentage from three, knocking down six of his eight threes to hit at a 75 percent clip. And he was clearly UF's most lethal weapon, finishing with a team-high 19 points.
Locke's effective shooting affected everyone else.
He stretched the floor to make everything easier for the rest of the Gators to penetrate inside. It helped forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. snag 15 points and get to the line seven times. It helped forward Keyontae Johnson rack up 11 points, including two wide-open, angry dunks.
Watch No. 4 at the beginning of this play. He is so concerned with Locke because of his hot hand, that he leaves the paint completely wide open for Johnson.
When Locke shoots like this, this team is completely different. It plays with more energy defensively and things click better offensively. His impressive last two performances, as he had 21 last time out against Texas A&M, have Florida looking the best it has looked in over a month.
Ques Glover is earning more minutes
The rotations from White are confusing, but tonight they worked.
After the Ole Miss game, it seemed the point guard Andrew Nembhard's ankle was going to be a serious concern moving forward. Four days later, he dropped 24 on the road against Missouri. He also added five assists and played 33 minutes when White wasn't sure if he was going to play at all.
On Saturday,, it seemed that the ankle may have actually been bothering Nembhard, as he only played 19 minutes. His backup, however, more than stepped in. Ques Glover was magnificent in his 22 minutes of action, with eight points, three assists and three rebounds.
Every game that he earns significant minutes, the freshman plays like a multi-year veteran. The position thought to belong to Tre Mann before the season has been seized by Glover in moments like this.
This team rides waves
When the Gators shoot well, everything seems to go well. When they don't? Nothing does.
This isn't new to college basketball, teams are streaky shooting the basketball and that obviously impacts games in a huge way. But this Florida team lets it affect their effort.
That has caused them problems this season, especially early in the year. When the shots weren't falling, turnovers increased and defensive lapses increased. Things that have nothing to do with shooting decline when the stroke isn't there.
That wasn't an issue on Saturday, as UF shot 52 percent as a team, but more importantly 50 percent from three. We will have to wait to see if White's group plays better even without a hot shooting touch moving forward.