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Vanderbilt stifles Florida for SEC tourney upset

Vanderbilt stifles Florida for SEC tourney upset
Published On: Fri, Mar 10
Dec 19, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida A&M Rattlers guard Jamie Adams (3) drives to the basket as South Florida Bulls guard Javontae Hawkins (21) and forward Zach LeDay (3) defend during the first half at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the season's first three months, to say that Vanderbilt's defense was substandard might have been kind.

Now it's carrying the Commodores to victories in the Southeastern Conference tournament.

A night after holding Texas A&M to 41 points, Vanderbilt held No. 17 Florida to 34.4 percent shooting from the field in a 72-62 overtime upset at Bridgestone Arena in the quarterfinals on Friday evening.

"Hats off to (Vanderbilt), I thought they were terrific," Florida coach Mike White said. "They stymied two or three of our runs with just some big, timely shots. They were the better team."

The Gators came from eight down late to force overtime and blew a chance to win in regulation. Florida guard Kasey Hill missed a layup with six seconds left, and though forward Kevarrius Hayes got an offensive rebound, Vanderbilt forward Joe Toye blocked the shot to force overtime.

The Commodores outscored the Gators 12-4 in OT.

Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance hit a short jumper to start overtime. A steal by Commodores forward Jeff Roberson led to guard Nolan Cressler's corner 3-pointer seconds later.

When LaChance hit a long 3 from straight-away with 2:19 left, Vanderbilt led 68-59, and that seemed to break Florida's spirits.

"(Florida) had been switching ball screens the whole game," LaChance said. "Got a switch on a ball screen, (the defender) was backing up a little bit, and I kind of let it go."

Florida struggled to shoot from outside, hitting just 6 of 23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range. Guard Canyon Barry, the SEC's Sixth Man of the Year who came in averaging 12.5 points, was held scoreless.

It wasn't easy for Vanderbilt, either. The Commodores shot 42.7 percent from the field. But Vandy's 11 3-point field goals, many coming several feet behind the line, were the difference.

"I thought it was the best that we defended them this year, outside of a handful of mistakes," White said.

LaChance led Vanderbilt (19-14) with 18 points, with Roberson (16) and guard Matthew Fisher-Davis (11) chipping in for double figures.

Kevaughn Allen and Hill led the Gators with 16.

Vandy center Luke Kornet (12 points) and Florida forward Devin Robinson (11) had a game-high 10 rebounds.

With Vanderbilt up eight in the second half, Florida's full-court press made things tough on the Commodores, and Allen took over for a spell.

The sophomore hit a long 3 off an offensive rebound, added another long 3 to beat the shot clock moments later and then beat Roberson to the hoop on a drive down the right side of the lane to tie the score at 42 with 13:40 left.

The Gators ended regulation on a 9-1 run to force overtime.

Kornet put an exclamation point at the end of the first half, grabbing an alley-oop from Cressler and slamming it home for a 33-28 halftime lead.

Florida, just 1-of-9 on 3-pointers in the first half, relied on dribble penetration for most of the first half. But Florida's guards had trouble finishing against the 7-foot-1 Kornet.

The Gators shot just 33.3 percent in the first half but kept it close because they turned it over just twice before the break.

It's the third time Vanderbilt has beaten the Gators this year. The Commodores' turnaround started in Gainesville, where an 8-10 team pulled an upset on Jan. 21 as a double-digit underdog.

Since then (and including that game), Vanderbilt is 11-4 against a schedule that included eight games against teams that will likely be in the NCAA Tournament next week.

"I told Bryce, I think theyre the most improved team in the league in the season. They've come a long, long way, offensively, during the season," White said. "I think theyve made that same improvement defensively."

Florida (24-8) will await its seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators entered Friday as the No. 4 team in the RPI, according to

Kornet tied Festus Ezeli's career school record of 204 blocks with a first-half swat.

NOTES: Florida coach Mike White is now 0-5 all time against Vanderbilt. ... This was Florida's seventh game without starting C John Egbunu, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 14. The Gators are 4-3 without him.

Read the complete news article here...

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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
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