#23 Florida Beats #24 Vanderbilt in Overtime, 65-61

With a path to the SEC East title clearer after Kentucky's loss to Mississippi, Vanderbilt decided to run a little deeper into the woods. The Commodores couldn't overcome a poor shooting performance and lost their toughest conference battle to date, falling at Florida in overtime 65-61.

The Commodores came back from a six point deficit with four minutes to play to force overtime. Defense was the Vandy's strength in the stretch, holding Florida without a field goal over the final six minutes. From there, they just couldn't pull out the win behind a bare bones squad. With Festus Ezeli, Taylor, and Steve Tchiengang all on the bench, Vanderbilt turned to Kyle Fuller, Rod Odom, and Lance Goulbourne to keep the team afloat. It seemed as the the 'Dores could pull it off, until a controversial non-call wiped out the team's best chance to win.

Trailing by two points, Jenkins had a chance to hit a game changing three, but put up an airball on a play that seemed to culminate in a clear foul. Unfortunately for the Commodores, the referees swallowed their whistles and Florida took possession. Chandler Parsons hit two free throws on the ensuing possession, and this effectively sealed the game for the Gators. It seemed like the little things like this took their toll against Vandy - missed front ends of one-and-ones, failing to secure rebounds at the end of the first half, and others - and these bits and pieces added up.

Jeffery Taylor didn't start the game for unspecified reasons and struggled for most of the game. The junior was tentative with his drives and settled for long threes too often, failing on many of them. He fouled out in overtime with just seven points and a dismal 2-12 performance from the field.

Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins drove this team from the backcourt, stepping up in the absence of Ezeli and Taylor. The duo combined for 37 points and 13 of the team's 21 field goals. The Commodores were outrebounded 42-29 on the night and shot just 37.5% from the floor.

Florida beat the Dores at their own game, using fouls to limit their opponents. In the end, it was enough to swing the game in their favor. Vanderbilt just couldn't recover from the mistakes that they made and lost as a result. Now Vandy is looking more and more like a longshot for a SEC Regular Season title. Fortunately, they still have time to figure things out.

 

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