The Gators snapped several streaks during their last outing. Florida’s loss to South Carolina gave the Gators their first SEC loss of the season and ended a seven-game win streak. It also marked the first game since 1992 in which Florida failed to make a three-point shot, ending a nation-best 850 game streak with at least one made three. The Gators were historically awful on the road against the Gamecocks, one of the nation’s top defensive teams.
But Florida returns home today to another sold-out crowd in the new O’Dome, a venue in which the Gators have yet to incur a loss this season. Florida will have the opportunity to keep that streak going today, against Vanderbilt, at 12:00 p.m. on CBS.
While the emphasis after Florida’s South Carolina loss was naturally on the abysmal offensive performance, the Gators’ defense did hold the Gamecocks to 29 percent shooting, after allowing their previous four SEC opponents to hit almost 50 percent from the floor.
The Gators need to get their offense going again, and need more from KeVaughn Allen, who after a few breakout performances has only scored 16 points over Florida’s last three games. Likewise, Canyon Barry had embarked on a four-game offensive tear, but made only four of 13 field goal attempts against the Gamecocks, and of course, none of his six three-point attempts.
Enter the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Vanderbilt is on the wrong side of a streak of their own. After winning the first two of their SEC slate, the eight-win Commodores have lost their last four - including a narrow loss to Kentucky. But Vandy is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country and leads the SEC in three-pointers per game (9.8) and three-point field goal percentage (.390). Another stat in which the Commodores sit atop the SEC is free-throw percentage (.769).
While Vanderbilt leads those categories in the conference, they are near the bottom of some others, including defensive field-goal percentage and rebounding. (Florida is actually dead-last in defensive rebounding in the conference.) The Commodores rank dead-last in the SEC in forcing turnovers.
Some Commodore players worth noting include forward Matthew Fisher-Davis, the team’s leading scorer - who did not start previously due to behavior issues, and might not start against the Gators - is one of the better players in the SEC and would almost surely see playing time off the bench even if he did not start. Another Vandy player to watch is point guard Riley LaChance, a 55.9 percent long distance shooter. The Gators will try to take away the three, and make it much harder for Vandy to score.
Florida seeks redemption against the Commodores, not only for their performance against South Carolina earlier this week, but also for their two losses to Vanderbilt last season. If Florida is victorious this afternoon, it would be the Gators’ first win over the Commodores under Mike White. A win today would also put the Gators at 5-0 in the new O’Dome, making for a sweet return home.