Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators mop floor with Vanderbilt in second-half blowout

By Adam Silverstein
January 22, 2022
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators mop floor with Vanderbilt in second-half blowout
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK on Twitter

With senior forward Colin Castleton (shoulder) still sidelined, Florida Gators basketball once again put together another total team effort to wipe the Vanderbilt Commodores off Billy Donovan Court at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday afternoon. Florida pulled away with a dominant second-half effort to win 61-42 over Vanderbilt and win its third straight SEC game after an 0-3 start to league play.

The Gators (12-6, 3-3 SEC) have been inconsistent all season and proved to be that way again in this game. By taking 21 long-range attempts in the first half, they barely held a halftime lead when they otherwise should’ve had a huge advantage through 20 minutes. Head coach Mike White seemed to change the team’s focus coming out of the locker room as Florida concentrated on taking higher-percentage shots, which led to a quick run out of the break and relatively easy victory.

UF held VU to just three field goals and no 3-pointers across the latter period. The 14 points were the fewest allowed by Florida in a half, and the 42 points were the fewest allowed by the hosts in a game this season.

So what went down in the Gators’ latest victory, and what does it mean for the team going forward? Keep on reading for Fastbreak Takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Florida scored five straight points to take an 18-point lead on Vanderbilt with 12 minutes to play. Leading by just three at the break, the Gators opened the second half with a 12-0 run to jump ahead 15. The ‘Dores tried to cut into their deficit, but when the hosts answered immediately, it was clear there would be no comeback effort in the O’Dome. UF eventually led by as many as 21 points with 39 seconds remaining in one of the most dominant second-half performances of the season. Florida outscored Vanderbilt 30-14 over the final 20 minutes as the visitors went just 3 of 22 from the field in the period.

First half focus: The Gators relied far too heavily on the 3-point shot, which cost them what otherwise likely would have been a double-digit lead entering halftime. They shot 21 triples to just 11 doubles to start the game, making only six of those long-range attempts. While UF figured out that it could get business done with higher-percentage shots in the latter period, that was not the case early on.

Exceptional efforts: This was another total-team win for a Florida squad that has not shown that type of presence this season. Senior point guard Tyree Appleby scored a game-high 11 points. Junior center Jason Jitoboh impressed with eight efficient points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while senior F Anthony Duruji posted seven points and eight boards but had four turnovers and four fouls in an uneven effort. Of the nine players who scored for the Gators, eight had 5+ points on the afternoon.

Odds and ends: Florida dominated in all phases, outscoring Vanderbilt off turnovers (23-7), on second chances (20-4), off the bench (24-16) and in the paint (28-12) … the Gators never trailed, leading for 38:58 of the 40-minute game … UF improved to 72-71 all-time against VU, 45-20 in the O’Dome and 9-6 overall under White … Florida is now 44-3 when holding opponents to 59 points or fewer under White … this was a rare low-scoring victory for the Gators, which are now 23-54 when scoring less than 70 points under White

What it means; what’s next? After losing three straight games to open SEC play (all against ranked opponents) the Gators have won three straight (all against unranked opponents). It’s becoming clear that Florida is the cream of the crop among the second tier of the league this season, but the question is whether it can step up against more talented competition.

UF will have a chance to extend its winning streak to four games when it faces a bottom-of-the-table Ole Miss team in a rescheduled road game on Monday at 7 p.m. with coverage only available via stream on SEC Network+. It will be the second of three games the Gators will play in a five-day span as they will hop on a plane again two days later to face Tennessee. UF will be heavily favored at Ole Miss but likely an underdog at UT. If Florida comes out of that game with a win, it would be an impressive feat due to the lack of turnaround time. The Gators taking a potential five-game win streak into the SEC-Big 12 Challenge would also be a confidence booster.

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