Some observations following Florida’s 50-47 win over Vanderbilt:
— With top scorer Michael Frazier II out with a high ankle sprain and Dorian Finney-Smith out indefinitely on a suspension, expect the Gators to treat the rest of the season like a baseball team playing out the string in September out of the pennant race. In other words, time to play the young guys. Freshman forward Devin Robinson showed some mental toughness in the second half, responding to a first half benching to finish with 12 points and 6 rebounds and score UF’s game-winning dunk. Sophomore center Chris Walker also had five blocked shots and is averaging 4.5 blocks over his last two games. Walker also did a nice job defending Vanderbilt’s in-bounds play with 1.7 seconds which sailed out of bounds, but had to pull himself due to abdominal cramping issues at one point in the second half. The 6-foot-10 center from Bonifay had 2 points, 4 rebounds and 5 blocks in 17 minutes, but with the continued conditioning issues, it makes you wonder if he’ll ever be able to log 25-30 minutes per game in his college career.
— Florida continues to make life hard for itself by missing free throws. The Gators were just 10 of 20 from the foul line against Vanderbilt, and point guard Kasey Hill’s two straight misses with 24.3 seconds left and Florida down 47-46 could have spelled doom. But at least credit Florida for attacking the rim and getting the line 20 times. Florida had taken just 16 trips to the free throw line combined in back-to-back losses to Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Getting Vanderbilt center Damian Jones to foul out with 5:39 left turned out to be a big factor in the game.
— I wasn’t a fan of Florida going for the trap and applying fullcourt pressure up 46-45 with 40 seconds left. I know Florida had been successful flustering Vanderbilt freshman point guard Wade Baldwin IV throughout the game, but at that point, I felt it was too risky. It turns out, Baldwin read the trap and got the ball past midcourt to freshman guard Riley LaChance, who attacked the basket and beat back-pedaling Florida center Jon Horford for a layup to put Vanderbilt up 47-46. Had Walker been at the back of the press to protect the rim, it would have made more sense. Donovan said postgame he felt Horford should have done a better job defending the play, but why even put him in that position when his post defense has proven to be shaky at best.