GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Vanderbilt freshman Aaron Nesmith scored a career-high 26 points, but it was not enough, as Florida came away with a 66-57 victory Wednesday.
Freshman Keyontae Johnson had 15 points and came up with a big steal in the closing minutes to propel Florida to the win.
With Florida holding a slim 57-52 lead, Johnson intercepted a pass from Matt Ryan with 2:05 remaining. Johnson was immediately fouled and made both free throws, putting the Gators up 59-52.
A turn-around jumper from KeVaughn Allen extended Florida’s lead to 61-52 with 1:30 left and the Gators (13-11, 5-6 SEC) held on to snap a three-game losing streak.
Aaron Nesmith led Vanderbilt (9-15, 0-11 SEC) with 26 points. But it wasn’t enough for the Commodores to avoid their 12th straight loss. Vanderbilt led 33-31 at the break but was unable to carry that momentum into the second half, shooting just 26.9 percent from the field and 7.7 percent (1 of 13) from 3-point range after halftime.
Florida led by as many as 10 points in the first half, going up 22-12 on a layup by Isaiah Stokes. But Vanderbilt answered with a 10-0 run, tying the score on Matt Ryan’s third 3-pointer of the first half.
Vanderbilt went up 30-25 on a four-point play by Nesmith with 1:56 remaining. But a pair of inside baskets from Stokes, including a putback with a second remaining, allowed Florida to pull within two at halftime.
The Gators battled through foul trouble for much of the first half, with starters Kevarrius Hayes and Andrew Nembhard sitting long stretches after each picked up two first-half fouls.