The Florida Gators basketball team (13-6, 5-2 SEC) is coming off of a three-game winning streak as they head to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (11-8, 3-4 SEC) on Tuesday, January 26 at 9 p.m.
Florida is 63-65 all-time against Vanderbilt, but has won seven of their last nine meetings. However, this road game will be a challenge for Florida as they play in Memorial Hall that sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza likened to a theater.
“It might be the toughest place to play in the league. It’s dark. It’s like playing in a theater,” Chiozza said of the unusual court setup.
– Dorian Finney-Smith was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 22 points and 10.5 rebounds in two wins this past week.
– Finney-Smith has a chance to join Florida’s 1,000-point club soon, currently sitting at 965 points for the Gators. He is looking to become the 51st player to reach that milestone for Florida and the first since Patric Young in 2014.
– The Gators’ 95-point game against Auburn marked the highest point total this season for any team in SEC play and the third SEC game to be decided by 30+ points. The 95 points also marked Florida’s second-highest point total under head coach Mike White and most vs. an SEC opponent.
– Since Jan. 9 (five games), Chris Chiozza is handing out 7.6 assists per game, the best in the SEC and fourth best among major conference players over that stretch.
The Vanderbilt Commodores just had their three-game winning streak snapped by the Kentucky Wildcats on the road, and they will be looking to do the same to Florida who is coming to their court with a three-game streak.
This opponent ranks first in all games in the SEC in 3FG% defense at .273 and is second in scoring margin (+11.4), FG% defense (.383), 3FG% (.405) and in threes made (8.5).
Vandy also has a height advantage with three players in their frontcourt coming in at seven feet or higher – Josh Henderson (7’0), Damian Jones (7’0) and Luke Kornet (7’1).
The Commodores will threaten the Gators offensive game, which has drastically improved in the past few games. Battling a team with such size, head coach Mike White is looking to get some touches in the paint to keep his basketball team ahead.
“Despite Vanderbilt being bigger, stronger and longer, we still want paint touches, of course,” White said. “But we’ll take what the defense gives us, also. It might be a little more difficult against a bigger team. We may have to rely more on driving the basketball and making shots from the perimeter and getting to the foul line, things like that.”
What This Game Means:
For Florida, this win would extend their winning streak to a four-game streak and give them an extra boost of confidence before heading in to play no. 9 ranked West Virginia on Saturday.
As for the Commodores, this win would give them an even win/loss record in conference play at home. This would also help them bounce back after their loss to Kentucky before heading to play Texas on the road on Saturday.
Be sure to check out the Florida Gators basketball team for yourself on ESPN at 9 p.m. EST. And as always be sure to follow along with us right here on GatorCountry.com on our message boards for an inside look and updates on the game.