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Florida 71, Vanderbilt 55: Gators throttle Commodores in Nashville

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A gym that had given Florida fits of late couldn’t help the team the Gators crushed on Wednesday night.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

What was that about Florida having trouble with Vanderbilt, especially at Memorial Gym?

These Gators sure didn’t have any in their 71-55 romp over the Commodores on Wednesday.

Andrew Nembhard scored 19 points, two shy of his career high, on just eight shots, and led an efficient attack that shot 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from distance and made 15 of 16 free throws in a relatively slow-paced game.

And he was just the best of a few great Gators on this night.

Kevarrius Hayes? 14 points on five shots, with a perfect 4-for-4 night at the line and two blocks, too. Jalen Hudson? 17 points off the bench, including three threes to match Nembhard for the team high.

Who cares that KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke combined to make two of eight threes and score just 11 points, or that Keyontae Johnson’s six rebounds came with just six points? It didn’t stop Florida from running out to a 20-8 lead, pushing that advantage to as many as 21 points, and never leading by single digits after intermission.

Florida didn’t score for three straight minutes early in the second half? That’s fine: Neither did Vandy, and the Gators were first to put up points after that stretch.

Vandy made a 12-4 run after that cold spell? Okay, whatever: Florida came back with an extended 9-1 run that ended any real threat on the night.

Aaron Nesmith lit up the Gators for 26 points in Gainesville? He would finish with a mere six on this night.

The Gators now own five straight SEC wins, something few other programs have gotten this year. They are 17-11 after being 12-11, 9-6 in conference play after being 4-6. They are rather safely in most NCAA Tournament projections after being on the wrong side of the bubble.

Everything we thought we knew about these Gators has been upended over the last three weeks — so why shouldn’t the Gators’ struggles against Vanderbilt under Mike White be the latest bit of conventional wisdom belied by reality?

These Gators were left for dead.

Now, they’re snapping.