Florida snaps 3-game losing streak by beating Vanderbilt

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Florida sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson drives past Vanderbilt forward Oton Jankovic during Saturday's game in Nashville, Tennessee. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean]

By Chip Cirillo/Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke helped Florida end its three-game losing streak.

Johnson scored 20 points and Locke added 17 as the Gators beat Vanderbilt 61-55 on Saturday night.

Florida coach Mike White said his team would have been lost without Johnson, who hit 7 of 11 from the floor and 4 of 5 from the foul line.

“I just thought Keyontae was as good as he’s played,” White said. “Offensively, defensively, you name it: energy, toughness. I think he got the last rebound of the game, which was pretty fitting.”

Florida (13-8, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) needed a win after dropping games to Mississippi State, Baylor and LSU.

“This game was real important,” Johnson said. “We tried to mainly focus on defense and we did good in the first half. Second half we slacked off just a little bit, but we managed to get big stops towards the end.”

Locke buried 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

“Everything fell our way toward the end,” Locke said. “We were trying to get back on track. Recently, we’ve been having a little bit of slippage.”

Vanderbilt (8-13, 08) suffered its 26th consecutive SEC loss, adding to the Commodores’ dubious league record.

Florida took charge with a 10-0 run early against Vanderbilt, which had played well in a loss at Kentucky.

“The most that I’m disappointed by is how we started the game,” Vanderbilt Jerry Stackhouse said. “Great momentum from last game and we come out and we were just soft. In so many ways we were just soft. We’ve got to find a way to get away from that disposition.”

The Commodores committed 17 turnovers as they suffered their ninth straight loss overall.

Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Commodores with 15 points and Saben Lee added 11.

“Definitely, I feel like it’s one step forward and one foot back,” Pippen said. “We lost this game in the first couple of minutes. We started slow and although we fought at the end, it wasn’t enough.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators led most of the way against the injury-plagued Commodores.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores continue to struggle without Aaron Nesmith (foot injury) and Clevon Brown (knee). Nesmith was leading the SEC in scoring when a stress fracture knocked him out of the lineup on Jan. 11.

LATE RUN

Vanderbilt got a roar from the crowd when it narrowed the deficit to 55-49 with just over 2 minutes left.

Lee’s layup through traffic cut the margin to 58-53 with 23.8 seconds left.

HONOREES

Vanderbilt honored its 1992-93 Sweet 16 team at halftime. The Commodores won their first SEC title since 1974 that year.

Eddie Fogler was named national coach of the year.

UP NEXT

Florida hosts Georgia (12-9, 2-6) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ESPNU). Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards is coming off a 29-point, 15-rebound game against Texas A&M.

Vanderbilt hosts No. 22 LSU (17-4, 8-0), which has won 10 straight, on Wednesday.

Notable

*The Gators have earned back-to-back wins at Vanderbilt for the first time in 14 years and have a win streak at Memorial Gym for just the fifth time in program history.
*It also marks UF’s 3rd straight win vs. Vanderbilt and fourth in the last five meetings.
*Keyontae Johnson led the way for Florida with 20 points, his fourth 20-point performance of the season, while Noah Locke hit a season-high 5 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. The duo combined to shoot 12-for-19 from the field (7-for-11 from 3).

Florida 61, Vanderbilt 55

FLORIDA (13-8)

Johnson 7-11 4-5 20, Locke 5-8 2-3 17, Nembhard 4-11 0-1 9, Blackshear 2-9 2-4 6, Lewis 1-5 0-0 2, Mann 1-6 0-0 3, Glover 2-4 0-0 4, Jitoboh 0-0 0-0 0, Payne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 8-13 61.

VANDERBILT (8-13)

Lee 4-12 3-4 11, Evans 2-9 3-3 9, Pippen 4-8 7-11 15, Obinna 1-2 0-0 2, Disu 1-5 0-0 3, Moyer 3-4 0-0 8, Wright 2-3 2-2 7, Albert 0-2 0-0 0, Jankovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 15-20 55.

Halftime_Florida 26-21. 3-Point Goals_Florida 9-23 (Locke 5-8, Johnson 2-3, Nembhard 1-2, Mann 1-5, Glover 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Blackshear 0-3), Vanderbilt 6-22 (Moyer 2-3, Evans 2-8, Wright 1-1, Disu 1-4, Albert 0-2, Lee 0-4). Rebounds_Florida 27 (Johnson, Blackshear 7), Vanderbilt 35 (Obinna 12). Assists_Florida 13 (Nembhard 4), Vanderbilt 6 (Lee 3). Total Fouls_Florida 17, Vanderbilt 16.

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Anyone who is happy or proud of 61 points scored against a team that has lost 26 straight SEC games should have his head examined. And to only have 13 foul shots when Vanderbilt had 20 demonstrates why the Gators are only mediocre. Why are they not driving to the net and relying almost entirely on outside (3pt ) shots? Who among the Gators is consistently fun to watch. Scotty Pippen JAn unior made fools of them driving around them constantly. Also, perhaps someone can explain to me why, when a Gator drives to the net there are always two or three defenders who converge on him (and usually preventing him from scoring or even giving up the ball to someone else who can score easily) and when the other team drives, almost always has only one guy to beat. I must be totally ignorant about baseketball not to understand these things. Frankly, I am beginning to lose confidence in MIke White. I just wonder how long UF will keep him when he barely can make the NCAA tournament and can’t advance much when they get there.

  2. The Gators just don’t play like their talent says they should. I Am not jumping for joy because Gators scored 61 pts. against Vandy. They led by 17 midway through 2nd half and then scored just 6 — SIX — in the final 7 minutes as Vandy got within 5. Looked like Gators were trying their best to get Vandy a big comeback win. I just do not understand what is holding this team back. They are simply unimpressive and without some fight in this dog will be lucky get an NIT invite. I really do not understand the defensive philosophy on the court. Is it the players? Is it White? Do they choke? An NIT bid is all this team can get unless something on the court changes.

  3. Gators have 10 games plus SEC tourney (1 and done). 11 games and they need to win 8 to reach 20 wins, which is the NCAA standard for clumsy, unimpressive and weak teams looking for a dance invite. I just do NOT see 8 wins among LSU, Kentucky (twice), Arkansas and Georgia, et. al. If we accept mediocrity from a team ranked pre-season 6th, then keep White. If Fla. is looking for a fire-brand in-your-face coach who demands players exceed expectations, let White go. Is MEDIOCRITY THE NEW GATOR STANDARD IN BASKETBALL?

  4. While Johnson and Locke definitely played well (together they cinched this game), I was not very impressed overall. We barely beat a mediocre (at best) Vandy team whose top two players were out due to injuries. We have to step up the level of play to ensure a win against Georgia. Going forward, this team must decide if they are committed to being victorious, or will settle for mediocrity. I almost did not watch this game but decided at the last minute that I must support my team through better or worse, thick and thin. GO GATORS!!!

  5. After the last four years (in which the Gators only got to the fourth round of the NCAA basketball tournament once) and after the measly 13-8 record this basketball season, it might be time for Mike White to be replaced. Billy made the Elite 8 four at least 6 times times, the Final Four four times and won twice. White;s record at UF is only .626 whereas Billy Donovan’s was .715.

    Not one of Whites recruits has made it in the NBA and none of his players over the last five years has been in the top five in rebounding or scoring. Kevaughn Allen (not his recruit but Billy’s, although he did keep him after Billy Left) the lone exception, finishing 3rd in 2016-17. The highest other UF players have reached during White’s tenure were all transfers and even then only two finished as high as 9th in scoring or rebounding (Barry and Koulechov). This year’s leader is the graduate transfer Blackshear (how come White couldn’t get him in the first place?).

    Not one of White’s recruits has made it in the NBA, whereas Billy had 16 of which 8 had (or are still going) long careers.

    It’s very iffy right now whether the Gators will even make the NCAA tournament, no less win a round or two. Is that the kind of performance UF sports can accept? Even watching the Gators play is painful. A Gator will go down the floor on a fast break and instead of taking a shot and/or getting fouled while doing it, he passes to a teammate who doesn’t make the shot or get fouled. Nembhard will pass the ball to a man in the corner and instead of that man shooting from outside or even faking and driving to the hoop, he waits until he is fully covered and then passes the ball back to someone who is already covered and then when the clock gets down to 5 or 7 seconds one of them will throw up a desperate shot and almost always miss.

    Most of the players on this team were highly ranked coming out of high school and Blackshear was rated the top in the SEC when he transferred, but none of them seems to know what to do on offense.

    So, with all of the supposedly great talent on this year’s team, if Coach White can’t get into at least the 3rd round in the NCAA, he should be given his walking papers. If he was coaching football, he would already be long gone.

  6. Granted the team doesn’t have the killer instinct to put a team away when they get a big lead. But does anyone realize that this team is playing 1 Senior, 2 or 3 Sophomores and the same amount of Freshman??? In my opinion, a lot of the problems stem from lack of experience and the chemistry of having a lot of newbies on the floor.

  7. UH, anybody here old enough to remember Michigan’s Fab Five? five freshmen who went to the title game and had a chance to win but someone forgot they had no more time outs. I fwas a fan of White;s at first. Many fans did not know Billy D. was an in-your-face guy in practice and a smooth coach during the game.. Except for that UConn loss in the Final Four, I never saw him out-coached.. The UConn loss–Gator led 20-6 and went dead cold from the field. Finished with 55 points and lost by 2. They scored 37 pts. in final 32. minutes. Ugly. But this team is giving ugly a new definition. How about LOST? mIGHT MAKE THE NIT WITH 16 WINS.

  8. RECALL THAT BILLY BALL WAS HALF-COURT TRAP, MATCH-UP FULL COURT ZONE, ZONE PRESS, ISOLATION, MANY TO MAN PRESS–AND NUMBER OF VARIATIONS. i DO NOT SEE THIS FROM WHITE. i SEE A MATCH UP 1/2 COURT D WITH PLAYERS LOSING THEIR MAN AND GIVING UP WIDE OPEN LOOKS. IS THIS WHAT GATOR BASKETBALL HAS COME TO? A MEDICORE TEAM AFTER HAVING A COACH AND GAME PLAN THAT STORMED THE COUNTRY FOR 18 YEARS AND COINED ;BILLY BALL?’ NOW GATOR BASKETBALL IS AN AFTER-THOUGHT.