clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vanderbilt 88, Florida 72: Commodores burn depleted Gators

Florida just doesn’t have enough talent available to beat a better team — especially a hot one.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Six Vanderbilt Commodores scored in double figures on Saturday. Florida had just two.

If you want reasons why the Commodores won an 88-72 victory, there’s no need to look further than the obvious.

None of those six ‘Dores scored more than the 20 points Florida’s Riley Kugel put up, but all five starters and one reserve actually had at least 11 points each, with Liam Robbins leading the way with 18 earned by bullying Florida inside and tossing in one three. Robbins also had nine boards and five blocks, a Colin Castleton-like line against the Colin Castleton-less Gators that was at least less gaudy than his output in Gainesville.

But Kugel and Kyle Lofton — who had 15 points, 13 in the first half — did some heavy lifting in trying to keep Florida within shouting distance. And, to an extent, that worked: Vandy, despite drilling 10 threes, struggled to fully separate from a scrapping Florida crew, and constantly had leads reeled back to 10 in the second half.

After Alex Fudge got a dunk to bring Florida within nine points with just over five minutes to play, however, the dam broke. Two offensive rebounds on one possession led to a Robbins dunk, Kowacie Reeves split two free throws, Robbins connected on his three, and Florida-killer Trey Thomas followed a Lofton miss with a dagger three to put the ‘Dores up 16.

Vandy’s win completes a season sweep of Florida for the first time since 2016-17, Mike White’s second year in Gainesville. Those Gators would go on to the Elite Eight, and yet also added a third loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament. Florida’s futility against Vandy — it had also lost both meetings with Vandy in 2015-16 — was subsequently used as a cudgel by fans finding fault with a program that, y’know, made the Elite Eight.

These Gators must win either their next two games or two SEC Tournament games to finish above .500, and one of those two games is on the road against White’s Georgia Bulldogs.

It’s probably a good thing for Florida — and Todd Golden, more specifically — that fans are not going to be watching this team play deep into March, mustering more and more recriminations and frustrations.