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Vanderbilt 72, Florida 62: Gators go down in overtime after furious rally

The Commodores sting the Gators once again.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Florida vs Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For the third time this year, and the second time in a week in Nashville, the Florida Gators had a chance to beat the Vanderbilt Commodores.

For the third time, it wasn’t to be.

Florida put together a ferocious 8-1 rally in the closing minutes to wake from a game-long slumber and send the game to overtime, but Vanderbilt did not miss a single shot in the extra period, and outscored the Gators 14-4 to take a 72-62 win and drop Florida to 0-3 against a team that seemed unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament as recently as two weeks ago.

On this night, the story was less Vanderbilt’s marksmanship or Luke Kornet’s interior dominance — even though Vandy rained in 11 threes and got 12 points and 10 boards from the seven-footer. This was, instead, more about Florida’s inability to hit much of anything: The Gators were 22 for 64 from the floor, had their third night of sub-40 percent shooting inside the arc, and made just six of 23 threes — with KeVaughn Allen making just four of his 11 triples. A 12-for-17 performance at the line was more in line with Florida’s averages, but Devin Robinson’s 4-for-7 night included a 1-for-2 trip that staked the Gators to just a one-point lead with seconds remaining.

Vandy’s Jeff Roberson was subsequently able to tie the game with a split trip of his own, forcing Florida to try to win at the buzzer, rather than defend a slim lead. That effort led to Kasey Hill — 5-for-16 on the evening — missing a layup under duress, and a block on a Kevarrius Hayes putback sending the contest to overtime.

Hill and Allen each had 16 points to lead the Gators, but only Robinson joined them in double figures. Newly-minted SEC Sixth Man of the Year Canyon Barry went scoreless on the night in 15 ineffective minutes, and Hayes scored just two points on a 1-for-6 night from the field.

For Vanderbilt, the win likely seals an NCAA Tournament berth in Bryce Drew’s first year at the helm in Nashville.

For Florida, the loss — a fifth to Vanderbilt under White, and a third in 13 days — means its NCAA Tournament destination may not be Orlando after all, as the Selection Committee will now have to weigh the Gators’ still-spectacular full body of work against its most recent fortnight of struggles.