The Florida Gators men’s basketball team (17-10, 8-6 SEC) is coming back home to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (16-11, 8-6 SEC) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
This will be the second matchup of the season between these two teams, and this time the Gators will have the home advantage. Last month the Commodores defeated Florida by just one point at 60-59 in Nashville, Tennessee. In the last four games against Vandy, Florida have only gotten over 60 points once. Yet the Gators are 2-2 in those games, including a 50-47 win the last time the Commodores made the trip to Gainesville.
Devin Robinson showed this team what he could do with a career high 17 points in the Gators’ last game against -South Carolina. He also set a personal best three blocks, three three-pointers and played a full 40 minutes.
Dorian Finney-Smith is one of just four SEC players averaging 15 points and eight rebounds this season. The other three are Ben Simmons (LSU), Moses Kingsley (Arkansas) an Yante Maten (Georgia).
The Gators went on a 22-0 run at South Carolina over the weekend after trailing 30-13. Florida scored the final 20 points of the first half and opened the second half with two more. This was the largest run for Florida since they posted a 22-0 run against Alabama State in the 2012-2013 season opener on November 11, 2012.
Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Commodores have won three of their last four games with the one loss being by one point to Mississippi State. Wade Baldwin IV leads the team in average points per game, coming in at 14.4 points and also has team high 135 assists this season. Vandy’s Damian Jones is not far behind Baldwin, averaging 13.9 points per game and 7.3 rebounds.
This basketball team ranks third in the nation in defending shots from behind the arc and sixth in field goal percentage defense. Not only can they block and prevent shots, but they also have four players who have hit at least 25 three-pointers. Three of those four players are shooting better than 43 percent from long range – Baldwin, Matthew Fisher-Davis and Jeff Roberson.
Vanderbilt is coming in to this game with confidence, winning three of their last four games and already defeating Florida earlier this season. They have a strong defense and can produce on the offense – ranking fourth in the SEC in scoring offense.
In order for Florida to get another win in the O’ Dome, they are going to have to bring their A game on both sides of the ball. The Gators are more than capable of the task ahead of them, but their inconsistency leaves people wondering which team is going to show up on Tuesday night. To pull this off, they will have to have excellent ball movement on the offense to tie up their defense and be selective with their shots instead of just tossing it in hopes of it getting tipped in.
What this game means
This is a critical game for the conference as both teams are coming into this matchup tied for fifth place in SEC standings, two games out of first place with just four left to play. This game could change the fate for post-season play for each of these teams.
Watch for yourself to see if the Florida Gators men’s basketball team will be able to redeem themselves with a victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on SEC Network. As always, be sure to follow along with us right here at GatorCountry.com for updates and comments during the game.