Nets come down as Florida Gators clinch fourth outright SEC regular-season title in school history

By Adam Silverstein
March 6, 2013

It was a storybook Senior Night for No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball, which capped off Wednesday evening’s festivities at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center by celebrating a victory and cutting down the nets after defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores 66-40 to clinch the outright 2013 SEC Championship.

Florida (24-5, 14-3 SEC), which locked up a share of its sixth regular-season title on Saturday, won its second outright championship in the last three years and the fourth in program history by outplaying Vanderbilt (13-16, 7-10 SEC) on both ends of the court.

The Gators completed an undefeated season at home (15-0) for the second time in school history and also clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the 2013 SEC Tournament.

After a slow start by both teams, Florida plowed ahead of Vanderbilt with an 18-4 scoring stretch fueled by 10 points from junior center Patric Young. The Gators fed Young the ball in the paint and he responded by hitting five of his first six shots to put his team ahead 20-6 with less than six minutes to play in the first half.

The Commodores struggled to find the bottom of the net in the early going, making just three baskets in the first 14 minutes of the game and going without a field goal for 7:55 in the middle of the opening period. Vanderbilt was able to turn things around with an 8-3 run toward the end of the half, but UF still took a 24-14 lead into the break.

Cutting into their deficit early in the second half, the Commodores got within seven of the Gators as G Kedren Johnson scored 15 of Vanderbilt’s first 19 points including 13-straight over a stretch that spanned halftime.

Still up just seven points with less than 15 minutes to play, Florida exploded on a 19-3 scoring stretch (including a 14-0 run) to take a 24-point lead with 6:45 remaining.

The Gators extended their lead to a game-high 26 points in the waning seconds as the crowd celebrated and began chanting “S-E-C.” Following the contest, Florida players, coaches and staff took turns climbing ladders and cutting down the nets in the O’Dome.

Appropriate for the evening, senior G Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 15 points on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Young finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and senior forward Erik Murphy added 10 points along with a team-high six rebounds. Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario chipped in five first-half points.

Johnson led the Commodores with 15 points but was shut down for most of the second half. He was the only VU player to score more than seven points.

Florida outshot Vanderbilt from the floor (.489-.269), from downtown (.500-.167) and from the charity stripe (.846-.533), registering 13 assists on 23 made baskets and outscoring their hosts off turnovers (13-8), in the paint (26-12) and off the bench (15-8).

Though the Gators were able to celebrate on Wednesday, Florida still has to close the regular season at Kentucky on Saturday in a 12 p.m. game set to air live on CBS.

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Photo Credits: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

One Comment

  1. Michael Jones says:

    More of a yeoman, workman-like effort last night, and I loved it. Old habits die hard, but I noticed a concentrated effort to get the ball inside to Young, Prather, Murphy, and Yeguete. Although Young always plays hard, it’s amazing to see how much even more energized he gets when he is more involved in the offense. I also noticed our guards trying to drive the ball. That’s great. Once they get used to shooting from 2 ft away those lay-ups will start dropping. We also seemed to get to the line more by getting the ball inside and driving it.

    Love that style of basketball. Might not be as Hollywood as the “bombs away” 3 pt. line approach, but it’s championship basketball.

    Congrats boys and Billy D.! Great job on winning the SEC outright!! Great job on continuing to learn and grow as a team. Loved last night’s effort. You looked tough, mean, and focused. Loved it!!! Special props to Rosario, who looked his most unselfish so far on offense last night, dishing the ball at appropriate times. GO GATORS!!!

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