Gators Close Out Regular Season at Vandy on Saturday; Watch Party at Wiley Gunters
The Florida Gators sent their seniors off in style with a pull-away win over Arkansas on Wednesday, but now they hit the road to finish the regular season at Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off between the Gators and Commodores at Memorial Gym is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET and the game will air live on ESPN. The Baltimore Gator Club will host a watch party for the event at Wiley Gunters, so come on out and watch as the Gators look to fend off the Commodores and enter the conference tournament on a win streak.
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Florida (24-6, 14-3 SEC) ran out to a big lead thanks to some hot shooting, and then held off a late charge to score a 78-65 home victory over Arkansas on Senior Night. The Gators finish their abbreviated home schedule with a 9-1 record, with the only blemish coming in a 68-66 defeat to Vandy on Jan. 21. All four seniors – Kasey Hill, Justin Leon, Canyon Barry, and Schuyler Rimmer – started for the Gators who opened the game by shooting 12-of-16. UF built its lead up to as many as 16 before closing the half up 41-28. Arkansas surged in the second half and cut the lead down to six, but the home-standing Gators finished the job. Barry led the squad with 14 points while Hill, KeVaughn Allen, and Chris Chiozza all tossed in 12 points apiece.
The game was indicative of the Gators’ season as they have spread the wealth in the scoring column. Allen (14.0 ppg) and Barry (12.3 ppg), along with Devin Robinson (11.1 ppg), all average scoring in double figures. Robinson has also been key down low, bringing down an average of 6.0 rebounds per game. UF has made its mark on defense, though, where the Gators rank 45th in the nation by only allowing opponents 66.2 ppg.
Vanderbilt (16-14, 9-8 SEC) raced out to a 19-point first-half lead and led by six at the break over Kentucky, but could not hold off the Wildcats and fell 73-67 on Tuesday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Forward Luke Kornet led the Commodores with 21 points, which included three 3-pointers, but Joe Toye was the only other Vanderbilt player in double-digits with 15 points.
Vandy had won four straight before the road setback on Tuesday and has compiled a 10-5 record in Nashville this season. The Commodores are the only team to beat the Gators at the newly renovated Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center, stealing a two-point victory back in January.
The Commodores’ victory in Gainesville pushed their all-time lead in the series with the Gators to 68-63. The loss also dropped Florida to 0-3 against Vanderbilt under second-year head coach Mike White.