No Comeback Needed as Gators Never Look Back, Crush Commodores 84-66
GAINESVILLE, FL – The Florida Gators have had a share of big comebacks in the Southeastern Conference this season, but Saturday night at home there was no looking back.
Florida blitzed Vanderbilt from the three-point line and free-throw stripe for an 84-66 victory and earned a season sweep over the Commodores. Though Vanderbilt lost by 14 to Kentucky on Tuesday, that game was close. The Gators built a 29-point lead at the break and the lead only shortened in the closing moments.
Florida put three players in double figures led by Noah Locke with 19 and Kerry Blackshear with 15, shooting 52 percent from the field. Florida was 10-of-20 from three and 20-of-30 at the line, and converted 24 points off 19 Vanderbilt turnovers.
With 22 seconds left in the first half, Vanderbilt forward Matthew Moyer was injured on contact on a jumper and head coach Jerry Stackhouse was ejected on a double technical foul.
Junior guard Saben Lee came into the game averaging 17.0 points and sixth in the SEC in scoring, and dropped in a game-high 23 points with seven rebounds and four assists. It was his ninth scoring game over 20 points for the season, and freshman teammate Scotty Pippen Jr. scored 12 points with six assists, going into double figure scoring for the 17 time. Maxwell Evans added 10 points and freshman Jordan Wright had a solid game with eight points and seven rebounds.
With starting guard Andrew Nembhard playing only 19 minutes and in foul trouble, Florida got 25 points off the bench and 32 points in the paint.
Vanderbilt shot 19-of-49 from the field (38 percent) and hit 8-of-17 from three, but the majority of those came late with the game hovering at 30 points. The Commodores shot 20-of-23 at the line but never got close enough for free throws to matter.
A slow start out of the gate for both teams eventually shifted for the Gators, but Vanderbilt could not ever recover. When Jordan Wright connected on six points to get it to 17-11, Florida outscored the Commodores 31-8 the rest of the way.
As fouls climbed for the Dores, Florida hit 15-of-21 at the free throw line in addition to a stellar shooting line from the field. The run extended with 7-of-12 threes and 52 percent shooting overall from the field.
The Gators won the first half rebounding battle by eight but a lot of those were on the Vanderbilt end.
With 22.6 seconds to go, Matthew Moyer was bumped from front and behind on a jump shot just outside the left of the lane. He went down gripping his left shoulder, and Coach Stackhouse pleaded with officials near midcourt for a foul on the no-call.
After a first technical, Stackhouse moved toward the other end of the floor when Moyer was still down and continued the argument, receiving a second technical and an ejection.
Florida connected on the four shots and then daggered a three by Tre Mann from the corner to end the half with a 48-19 lead.
Every time the Dores drew with 25, the Gators ran it out to 30 and a largest lead of 32 points with 9:37 to go in the second half.
Florida led for all but the first 15 seconds of the game. It was never tied after the opening tip.
Vanderbilt (66) – Lee 23, Pippen 12, Evans 10, Wright 8, Dylan Disu 7, Ejike Obinna 6.
Florida (84) – Locke 19, Blackshear 15, Johnson 11, Lewis 9, Glover 8, Mann 7, Payne 5, Nembhard 5, Jitoboh 4, Sutherland 1.
Vanderbilt leads the overall series, 71-68. Florida won the last meeting this season in Nashville, 61-55.
Florida leads the series in Gainesville, 45-22.
Vanderbilt (9-16, 1-11) travels to Knoxville Tuesday, to face the Tennessee Volunteers (14-11, 6-6) in Thompson-Boling Arena. The game is at 5:30 p.m. CST on the SEC Network.
Florida (16-9, 8-4) hosts Arkansas (16-9, 4-8) at 6 p.m. Tuesday on ESPNU.