NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt nearly came back from an 18-point, second-half deficit Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium, but visiting Florida held on for a 61-55 victory.
The Commodores narrowed the gap to 55-49 with 2:50 to go, but Noah Locke’s 3 with 2:22 remaining made it a 58-49 game and seemed to take the wind out of the Vandy comeback sails.
Saben Lee’s layup with 25 seconds left, however, cut it back down to 58-53. That would be as close as Vandy would be able to get as the Gators (13-8, 4-3 SEC) made enough free throws down the stretch.
The Commodores host LSU (17-4, 8-0 SEC) at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Vanderbilt went nearly six minutes without a made field to start the game Saturday. Matthew Moyer’s layup at the 14:04 mark cut Florida’s lead to 10-5.
The Commodores went through another scoring lull – this one of nearly five minutes – that was broken again by Moyer, this time with a left-wing 3. Keyontae Johnson immediately answered on the other end with a 3 of his own to put the Gators up 17-11.
Vandy twice sliced the deficit to three – once on an Obinna dunk at 21-18 and then on a Jordan Wright 3 from the right corner at 24-21. Florida responded before the break to take a 26-21 lead into halftime.
The Dores had 10 turnovers compared to just seven made field goals.
Florida came into the second half and quickly upped its advantage to 34-23 on Johnson’s three-point play. Locke buried a triple moments later making it 37-23 and forcing a Vandy timeout.
Vandy tried to get something going and trailed by eight on a Pippen layup at 39-31. The Gators answered with back-to-back-to-back 3s stretching the margin out to 48-31.
Lee’s steal and layup got Vanderbilt within 10 with 5 1/2 minutes to go. Maxwell Evans then hit consecutive 3s from the left corner putting Vandy in striking distance at 55-49.
That set up the final 2:36 seconds of regulation.
Johnson had 20 to lead Florida. The Commodores had 17 turnovers and 17 made field goals.
Just how it was drawn up pic.twitter.com/FzGSWdEImd
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) February 2, 2020
Vanderbilt junior Saben Lee (1,079) passed Bo Wyenandt (1,078) for 42nd on the program’s all-time scoring list. Bruce Elder is 41st with 1,086.
• The Commodores now lead the all-time series with Florida 71-67 and 44-18 at Vanderbilt.
• Vanderbilt is now 1-10 when trailing at halftime this season.
• Vandy is now 0-11 this season when trailing with five minutes to play and 0-12 when trailing with two minutes to play.
• Vanderbilt senior Clevon Brown (knee) missed his 12th straight game due to injury.
• Obinna made his seventh start of the season for Vandy on Saturday.
• Attendance on Wednesday was announced as 9,582 giving Vanderbilt an average of 9,126 fans per game after 15 home contests this season.