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Florida vs. Vanderbilt, Game Thread: SEC title is Gators' for the taking

A home date against Vanderbilt is all that stands between Florida and the Gators' second SEC title in three years.


I'm just going to be honest: Vanderbilt's not beating Florida (8 p.m., ESPN), and the Gators will be the champions of the SEC by night's end.

Vanderbilt's 2012 team was a dark horse Final Four pick, with John Jenkins, Jeffrey Taylor, and Festus Ezeli providing senior leadership for a squad that knocked off Kentucky for the 2012 SEC Tournament title. Vanderbilt's 2013 team has seven SEC wins, and its 41-point margin of victory against Mississippi State is almost as large as the combined margin of victory in the other six wins, which have come against South Carolina, Auburn twice, Awful Road Arkansas,.Texas A&M, and Georgia.

Apart from that one night when Vanderbilt treated Mississippi State like a SWAC team (especially on defense, where the Commodores did more than they did against Alabama A&M, the SWAC team Vandy actually played), the Commodores have been reliant on the three (39.1 percent of Vanderbilt's points come from threes) and reliably bad when it doesn't fall, losing all but two of their games with an effective field goal percentage under 50 percent.

Vanderbilt's key outside threats are freshman Kevin Bright (44.3 percent from three), sophomore Kedren Johnson (36.7 percent), and junior Rod Odom (35.2 percent), whose name would be a pretty easy Wheel of Fortune puzzle if the category was SEC Players and you bought an O. Knowing Florida's luck, this game will be close for a while because one of those players will make a bunch of threes from 27 feet.

But Florida's much better on both offense and defense, and is likely to do excellent work limiting second shots, given that Vandy is No. 286 nationally in offensive rebounding rate. It's Senior Night for Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, and Mike Rosario, and all three (Boynton's barbecued Vandy for 15 or more points in five of his seven games against Vandy; the 'Dores have no one who matches up well with Murphy both on the wing and underneath; Rosario could do excellent work slashing against Vandy's defense, given that just two Vandy players commit fewer than 2.6 fouls per 40 minutes) should be able to do their part to get the Gators a title.

I'll be at the game, so you'll see my tweets more than my Game Thread comments, but y'all know I read all of your comments and will have a recap up shortly after getting home, so expect that around 11.