The Vanderbilt Commodores’ game against the Florida Gators on Saturday night couldn’t have started much worse. After Maxwell Evans made three free throws in the first minute of the game, the Commodores missed their first six field goal attempts of the game. Matthew Moyer finally got Vanderbilt’s first bucket of the game with 14:00 left in the half; the good news was that Florida had only managed to get ahead 10-5 at that point.
After a sloppy first half, in which Vanderbilt shot 7-of-24 from the floor and committed ten turnovers, though, the Commodores had to be thrilled to only trail 26-21. The difference in the first half: a 22-15 rebounding edge, keyed by Ejike Obinna’s nine rebounds.
But then Florida came out of the break and promptly went on an 11-2 run, fueled by more Vanderbilt turnovers and missed shots — while the Gators suddenly started finding the basket. The Commodores responded with an 8-2 run of their own, but Scotty Pippen Jr. missed a pair of free throws that would have cut the Gator lead to six, and Florida knocked in three consecutive three-pointers to grab a 48-31 lead.
A furious rally gave Vanderbilt a fighting chance. The Commodores went on a 15-4 run late in the second half, cutting the Florida lead to 55-49 at the final media timeout with 2:36 left. But Florida’s Noah Locke responded with a dagger three out of the timeout, and Maxwell Evans missed at the other end. Scotty Pippen Jr. cut Florida’s lead to seven with under a minute left, but Vanderbilt allowed the Gators to drain 18 seconds off the clock before fouling with 33 seconds left. Andrew Nembhard missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Saben Lee got a quick layup, and it was 58-53 Gators. Vanderbilt, again, allowed Florida to run eleven seconds off the clock before fouling Noah Locke. Locke made both free throws to extend the lead back to seven, though Scotty Pippen Jr. made a pair as well and after Locke missed the front end of the one-and-one, Vanderbilt had a chance to make things interesting with a quick three.
But Dylan Disu’s long three-point attempt rimmed out, and Florida escaped Memorial Gym with a 61-55 win. Pippen led Vanderbilt with 15 points and Saben Lee had 11; Matthew Moyer had a season-high eight points off the bench. Florida’s Keyontae Johnson led all scorers with 20 points. Vanderbilt has LSU up next on Wednesday night at Memorial Gym; the Commodores are now 8-13, 0-8 in the SEC and have lost 26 consecutive SEC games.