Mann scores 22 points, Florida holds off Vandy 69-63 at SEC

Special to Gatorsports.com
Tre Mann led the Gators with 22 points and six assists, along with seven rebounds in the win Thursday over Vanderbilt. Mann has scored 20+ in three consecutive appearances and is averaging 20.8 points over his past four games played.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Guard Tre Mann scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half Thursday to lead Florida to a 69-63 win over Vanderbilt in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.

The fifth-seeded Gators (14-8) will play No. 4 seed Tennessee (17-7) in Friday's quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN after snapping a two-game skid. Vanderbilt ends its season 9-16 with its third loss this season to Florida. The Vols beat the Gators 65-54 to end the regular season last Sunday.

Noah Locke scored 13 points for Florida, and Tyree Appleby added 12 off the bench.

Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Commodores with 23 points, making all 10 free throws. D.J. Harvey and Trey Thomas each had 12 points.

After Florida led 54-44 on a Locke layup with 10:34 left in the game, Vandy,  thanks to three consecutive 3s by Thomas, went on an 11-0 run for a 55-54 lead with 8:33 remaining.

Mann, an All-SEC first team selection, then took over, scoring nine points to put the Gators ahead for good. 

"My mindset was to not let my team lose," Mann said. "That's my mindset for the whole tournament."

Pippen pulled Vanderbilt within 64-63 with a pair of free throws with 1:40 left. But Mann hit a jumper with 53 seconds to go, and Thomas missed a 3 for Vandy with 31 seconds remaining as the Gators held on.

"He's a developing point guard who can also score off the ball and on the ball," UF coach Mike White said of Mann. "He worked his butt off to become one of the better guards in this league."

The SEC’s best shooting team made this game closer than it needed to be. The Gators went cold from the floor in the second half, missing five straight and going more than five minutes without a field goal. They did hold Vanderbilt without a field goal the final 4:05.

"I thought down the stretch defensively we were better," White said.  "Gotta be even more sharp tomorrow and moving forward, and then of course I thought our ball security and converting at the foul line and the command of our point guards in Tyree (Appleby) and Tre (Mann) were positives as well."

More:Noah Locke dunks for first time as a Gator in ACC Tournament quarterfinal vs. Vanderbilt

Florida's Osayi Osifo looks for a way around Vanderbilt's Myles Stute in the first half Thursday of the Southeastern Conference Tournament game in Nashville, Tenn.

Florida took a 34-22 lead at the break by going on an 8-0 run to end the first half. Locke led the way with 11 points, including back-to-back 3s, for the Gators.

The Gators' defense and fatigue on the Commodores may have played a role in the Gators 12-point half lead, as Vandy made just 8 of 25 shots from the floor (3 of 15 from beyond the arc). Vanderbilt defeated Texas A&M on Wednesday night in the first round.

Vanderbilt's D.J. Harvey shoots against Florida's Colin Castleton in the first half Thursday of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

The Gators outrebounded the Commodores in the first half 18-11 and outshot them 53.6% to 32%.

Mann, who missed Florida's loss at Tennessee on Sunday because of a migraine, started and scored six points, had four assists and two boards in the first 20 minutes.

Notes: Florida guards Tyree Appleby and Scottie Lewis were relegated to bench roles to begin the game, and it wasn’t for strategic reasons. The two Gators arrived late to the morning shootaround session, ESPN’s broadcast reported, resulting in a reserve role for the team’s second round match-up in the SEC Tournament with Vanderbilt. Freshman wing Samson Ruzhentsev started in place of Lewis, the first start of the former five-star prospect’s collegiate career, while junior Noah Locke — UF’s only player with prior SEC Tournament experience — was on the court for tip-off instead of Appleby. 

Florida 69, Vanderbilt 63

VANDERBILT (9-16)

Brown 3-4 0-0 7, Evans 2-7 0-0 4, Harvey 5-9 0-0 12, Pippen 6-19 10-10 23, Wright 0-4 0-0 0, Thomas 4-8 0-0 12, Stute 0-2 2-2 2, Millora-Brown 0-1 0-0 0, McBride 1-3 0-0 3, Odusipe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 12-12 63.

FLORIDA (14-8)

Castleton 3-5 0-2 6, Duruji 4-7 0-1 8, Ruzhentsev 1-5 0-0 2, Locke 5-12 0-0 13, Mann 7-12 7-8 22, Appleby 3-8 4-4 12, Lewis 0-1 1-2 1, Osifo 0-0 0-0 0, Payne 2-2 1-1 5, Lane 0-1 0-0 0, Jitoboh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-53 13-18 69.

Halftime_Florida 34-22. 3-Point Goals_Vanderbilt 9-31 (Thomas 4-7, Harvey 2-5, Brown 1-2, McBride 1-3, Pippen 1-7, Wright 0-1, Stute 0-2, Evans 0-4), Florida 6-19 (Locke 3-8, Appleby 2-4, Mann 1-3, Ruzhentsev 0-4). Rebounds_Vanderbilt 29 (Brown 7), Florida 33 (Castleton 8). Assists_Vanderbilt 10 (Pippen 4), Florida 15 (Mann 6). Total Fouls_Vanderbilt 16, Florida 14.

Friday

What: SEC Tournament

Where: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

Who: No. 5 seed Florida (14-8) vs. No. 4 seed Tennessee (17-7)

When: About 2:30 p.m. 

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM