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Florida vs. Vanderbilt, Game Thread: Can the Gators shoot down the Commodores?

The O'Connell Center may be friendlier to Florida than Memorial Gym was.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The ways to beat Vanderbilt, as Florida will try to do on this Tuesday night in the O'Connell Center (7 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN)? Either go inside or make shots. Yes, it's really that simple.

Of course, it's easier said than done against the Commodores, who have the nation's best three-point defense and the No. 3 defense in terms of effective field goal percentage allowed. The 'Dores pack it in to make two-pointers tough and dare teams to bomb away — and that turned out to be a sound strategy against Florida in January, as the Gators made exactly a third of their twos and just seven of 22 threes, with five of them coming in the final 4:29 of play.

That 60-59 loss by the Gators wasn't as close as it appears on paper, and it was also as vexing a loss as any Florida has taken in a year in which virtually every loss has been deeply frustrating. That night did, in fact, feature Florida's worst shooting on twos all season, and it cancelled out a superb defensive effort that ranks as the second best per-possession performance any team has had against Vanderbilt this year.

For Florida, simply having some shots fall, which they have tended to do more often in the friendly confines of the O'Connell Center, would make a world of difference. And while beating Vandy on this night isn't a prerequisite for making the NCAA Tournament, given Florida's relatively secure footing, things could go sideways in a hurry if the Gators don't take care of the Commodores.