No. 13 MBB Falls to Florida, 86-64Listen to Postgame Interviews

(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida didn’t handle its first ranking very well this season, promptly losing to rival Florida State by 14 points.

It looks like the Gators will get another shot.

Walter Hodge scored a career-high 19 points, Nick Calathes added 15 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Florida used a huge first-half run to beat No. 14 Vanderbilt 86-64 Sunday.

The victory could land the two-time defending national champion Gators (18-3, 5-1 SEC) back in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since late November.

Coach Billy Donovan would prefer his young and inexperienced team stay out of the national spotlight.

“It’s like poison,” Donovan said. “If they want to drink the poison and take it in, they’ll start to feel good about themselves, think they’re a lot better than they really are, they’ll stop working and they’ll get complacent, and you know what? They’ll get humbled.

“You can do one of two things: You can humble yourself or life will humble you. I think it’s a lot easier to find a way to humble yourself.”

The Gators certainly humbled Vanderbilt on Sunday.

They put together a 23-0 spurt and built a 34-6 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game, then cruised to their 13th victory in 15 games against the Commodores (17-3, 2-3). The streak includes seven straight in Gainesville.

Florida, relying on a pressing, trapping defense, played one of its best halves of the season. Vanderbilt committed eight early turnovers and missed open shots around the basket. And the team’s top scoring duo, Shan Foster and A.J. Ogilvy, struggled all over the court.

Foster and Ogilvy, who entered the game averaging nearly 39 points, combined for just three in the first half.

Ogilvy fouled out with 3:41 remaining. He had nine points and four rebounds. Foster finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.

“We obviously got overwhelmed the first 12 minutes of the game and were never able to recover,” Vandy coach Kevin Stallings said. “We just weren’t as emotionally ready to play as they were. They were faster to the ball and more physical and the more aggressive team. That’s a sure recipe for defeat on the road. We were outplayed, outcoached.”

Stallings spent all week trying to get his team to rebound better and limit turnovers. Vanderbilt did neither, getting outrebounded 39-31 and committing 16 turnovers.

“We certainly didn’t get the return on our investment we were looking for,” Stallings said.

Alex Gordon led Vanderbilt with 13 points.

The Commodores looked nothing like the team that started the season 17-0. They left Florida shooters wide open, turned the ball over early and often, and couldn’t stop Hodge and Calathes from driving at will.

All five Florida starters scored in double figures.

Dan Werner had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Speights finished with 12 points and eight boards, and Jai Lucas chipped in 11 points.

The fast start was the key.

Six different players scored baskets in the 23-0 run, and Florida was 9-of-11 shooting during the stretch. Hodge and Jonathan Mitchell had five points apiece, and Werner and Speights added four each.

“I’m still kind of shocked,” Werner said. “I knew we were putting it on them pretty good, but I didn’t know it was that … because they’re such a good team. That definitely was a shock.”

Stallings called two timeouts during the run, trying to halt Florida’s momentum. Neither worked. He even said three players were in the wrong defense when Hodge and Werner hit consecutive 3s from the same spot.

“It would be hard to explain some of things that really occurred today,” Stallings said. “It just sort of leaves you mystified as a coach. … It’s hard to get things like that. It’s hard to understand.”

The Commodores missed 15 of their first 18 shots. Despite the rough start, Vandy cut the lead to 13 late in the first half. But Chandler Parsons had a driving dunk with about 50 seconds remaining to push it back to 46-31 at the break.

Vanderbilt never got it closer, either.

“It’s hard to put your finger on it,” Foster said. “They were coming down, hitting shot after shot and getting easy buckets under the basket. We kind of got caught up in the moment, I guess. We didn’t fight back. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I couldn’t believe it.”