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Vandy stuns No. 12 Florida again

Vandy stuns No. 12 Florida again
Published On: Sat, Mar 04
Dec 19, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida A&M Rattlers head coach Clemon Johnson talks with guard Jamie Adams (3) during the first half against the South Florida Bulls at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Before the season, Vanderbilt pinned its NCAA Tournament hopes on center Luke Kornet.

Nearly four months later, the senior center might have led the Commodores there with a 24-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance as Vanderbilt upset No. 12 Florida 73-71 at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday, before a crowd of 10,431.

Sixteen of Kornet's points came in the second half, many late, as the Commodores (17-14, 10-8 SEC) came from 12 points down to sweep the season series against Florida.

"Things did not look very good about the 12-minute mark," Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. "Somehow, in the next seven to 10 minutes, we were able to manufacture points. It wasn't pretty. We didn't shoot the ball well from three, but we were able to get some post-ups from Luke, were able to get some drives and finish."

Vanderbilt, which hit 40 percent of its 25 3-pointers when it upset the Gators (24-7, 14-4) in Gainesville, Fla., hit just 22.7 percent of its its 22 long-distance shots on Saturday. The Commodores instead got 17 points off 13 turnovers, many in the open court, a big factor against one of the nation's best defensive teams.

"Their points off turnovers were huge," Florida coach Mike White said. "That was the biggest factor in the game." White said.

Kornet also made things difficult around the bucket late as the Gators tried to counter.

"In my opinion he's the best defender in the league," White said. "He's just terrific."

Vanderbilt forward Jeff Roberson added 15 points without missing a shot, while guard Canyon Barry led Florida with 15.

The teams traded buckets late.

Kornet tipped in Riley LaChance's miss with 2:12 left, tying the game at 67-67. Florida guard KeVaughn Allen drove around Vanderbilt guard Nolan Cressler to put the Gators up again, but LaChance weaved through traffic and dropped in a layup at 1:35.

Kornet hit a foul shot with 17.1 seconds left, and another with 12.1. The last put Vandy up two, and the Commodores dodged a bullet when Allen missed a layup and the Gators couldn't foul until 1.8 seconds left in the game.

Vanderbilt forward Joe Toye missed both free throws, and Florida guard Chris Chiozza's missed a 75-foot heave as the clock expired.

The Commodores cut Florida's long-held lead to 42-40 after Roberson drove and threw down a two-handed dunk as the crowd roared. But Barry responded with two quick layups to extend the lead to six.

Minutes later, Florida forward Justin Leon hit an open 3-pointer and Gators forward Devin Robinson won a scramble for a loose ball under the bucket and laid it in, giving the Gators their biggest lead to that point at 54-42.

But Vanderbilt rallied, thanks to outstanding play from Kornet on both ends.

LaChance hit two free throws to tie the game at 63-63 at the 4:05 mark, the first time the Commodores had been even since midway through the first half.

Vanderbilt took an early 9-2 lead, effectively taking it to the basket both in transition and in the half-court during that stretch.

Florida coach Mike White took time out and switched to a zone, which it used much of the rest of the half to cut off the drive and force the Commodores off the perimeter at the same time.

It was effective.

Vanderbilt shot 40.7 from the field for the half, including only 3 of 14 on 3-pointers.

Vanderbilt guard Matthew Fisher-Davis, who led the Commodores with 19 points in the earlier meeting in Gainesville, was only 1 of 5 from the field in the first half. He finished with two points and played only three minutes in the second half.

Florida was effective at hitting short-to-mid-range jumpers, connecting on 51.6 percent of its first-half shots. Allen, who had a season-high 29 points in the first meeting, led both teams with 13 at the half.

LaChance, who came in averaging 31.3 minutes per game, was limited to 11 first-half minutes due to picking up his third foul at 5:49.

Florida's Allen went scoreless in the second half and missed both his second-half field goal attempts, both layups late in the contest.

Florida's hopes for a share of the league's regular-season crowd evaporated when Kentucky won at Texas A&M earlier in the day, but the Gators will be the No. 2 seed in next week's SEC tournament, which will be played about three miles from the Vanderbilt campus at the Bridgestone Arena.

Florida gets a double-bye and won't play until Friday, while the Commodores will play on Thursday.

The Commodores, considered an NCAA Tournament bubble team entering Saturday's matchup, now have a pair of wins over the Gators, who entered Saturday ranked No. 3 in the RPI. It also has victories over Arkansas (road), Iowa State and South Carolina, all teams that should be in the field of 68. Vanderbilt also entered Saturday with the fifth-toughest RPI schedule in the country, and toughest out-of-conference slate.

"We can only control what we can control," Drew said when asked about his team's resume. "These last 10, 11, 12 games, we've played almost as well as anyone in the country."

LaChance added 13 points and just one turnover in 31 minutes and Cressler also had 13. Florida placed guard Kasey Hill (10 points) and Chiozza (11) in double figures.

NOTES: Vanderbilt honored C Luke Kornet and G Nolan Cressler in a pre-game ceremony on Senior Day. ... The Gators are without C John Egbunu, who tore an ACL in Florida's 26th game against Auburn on Feb. 14. Florida is 3-2 without him. ... Florida beat every team in the Southeastern Conference this year except Vanderbilt. Coach Mike White, in his second year at Florida, is 0-4 against the Commodores. ... Vanderbilt has hit a 3-pointer in 995 straight games, and joins UNLV and Princeton as the only teams to hit a 3-pointer in every game since the shot was implemented in 1986-87.

Read the complete news article here...

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Name Pos
DeVon Walker G
John Egbunu C
Dorian Finney-Smith F
Alex Murphy F
Devin Robinson F
Chris Chiozza G
Schuyler Rimmer F
Justin Leon F
Kasey Hill G
Lexx Edwards G
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