Published January 13, 2015
The 11th-ranked Florida Gators set their sights on an outright SEC title, as they welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores to the O'Connell Center on Wednesday night.
Billy Donovan's Gators have already secured a share of the conference crown and need only one win in their last two games to earn the outright title. Florida has won two of its last three games and picked up a share of the conference with last weekend's 64-52 win over Alabama.
Kevin Stallings' Commodores have struggled this season, sitting two games under .500 overall (13-15) and in conference play (7-9). However, Vanderbilt has played well down the stretch with wins in three straight and four of its last five games, including a 62-55 victory over Auburn last time out.
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series 64-60, but Florida has closed the gap of late with wins in four of the last five meetings. The Gators, who are a perfect 14-0 at home this season, are 13-3 all-time against the Commodores in Gainesville.
The Commodores' lack of scoring depth has really plagued the team this season and kept it from competing at a more consistent level. The team is averaging just 60.2 ppg and shooting a mediocre .410 from the floor. The defensive effort has been much better, with foes being held to just 59.6 ppg and a mere .407 shooting. Vanderbilt has two players currently averaging double-figure scoring totals in Kedren Johnson and Rod Odom. Johnson is tops on the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) thanks in large part to this team-high 51 3-pointers. Johnson serves as the team's top distributor as well (3.7 apg) and also paces the squad in steals (31). Odom (10.2 ppg) is next in line in the scoring column, but is shooting just .366 from the floor.
It was once again a less-than-stellar performance in terms of shooting efficiency for Vanderbilt, but the Commodores were able to overcome a mere .327 shooting performance by limiting the Tigers to just a .357 outing, while netting 10 3-pointers and outscoring Auburn at the free-throw line, 20-12. Johnson was just 2-of-11 from the floor, but finished with 16 points and eight assists, thanks to a 10-of-15 effort from the charity stripe. Kevin Bright added 14 points, while Josh Henderson tallied 11 points in the win.
Florida has thrived at both ends of the floor this season, ranking second nationally in scoring margin (+19.3), third in scoring defense (53.4 ppg) and seventh in field-goal percentage defense (.376), while leading the SEC in field-goal percentage (.488), 3-pointers made (8.5 per game), 3-point accuracy (.379) and assists (15.5 apg). Scoring depth is apparent with four of the five starters averaging double figures. Mike Rosario leads the team at 12.9 ppg. Fellow guard Kenny Boynton follows closely with 12.5 ppg, while Erik Murphy (12.4 ppg) and Patric Young (10.4 ppg) provide frontcourt balance. Scottie Wilbekin (9.1 ppg) completes the starting five and is one of the SEC's top distributors, doling out 5.3 apg.
The Gators used a 15-0 run in the second half to create some breathing room between themselves and the Crimson Tide and picked up the win and in turn a share of the conference title. Four players notched double digits in the win for Florida, led by Murphy's 15 points. Boynton finished with 13 points, while Wilbekin and Casey Prather netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.