NO. 13 FLORIDA (22-7, 10-4 SEC) AT VANDERBILT (20-9, 9-5 SEC)
Time: 9 p.m.
TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler play by play, Jimmy Dykes color)
Location: Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn.
Florida 18 (No. 2 SEC)
Vanderbilt 23 (No. 3 SEC)
Line: Vanderbilt -2½ (O/U 141)
Florida Players to Watch: G Kenny Boynton, 6-2 Jr. (17.3 ppg, 2.6 apg, 44.1% 3s); G Erving Walker, 5-8 Sr. (12.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.9 rpg); C Patric Young, 6-9 So. (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 61.2% FG). With 11 points in Saturday’s 74-62 loss to Georgia, Boynton passed the 1,500-point mark for his career. He is the 13th Gator to reach the milestone. He also ranks fifth all-time in 3-pointers made at Florida.
Vanderbilt Players to Watch: G John Jenkins, 6-4 Jr. (20 ppg, 48.8% FG, 46% 3s); F Jeffery Taylor, 6-7 Sr. (17.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 52.3% FG); C Festus Ezeli, 6-11 Sr. (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.2 bpg). Jenkins is the SEC’s leading scorer in all games and in SEC games. He’s averaging 19.1 per game in conference play. If he holds on to the scoring lead he would be the first since LSU’s Ronnie Henderson to win back-to-back SEC scoring titles. He also leads the SEC in free throw percentage (87.5) and leads the nation in 3-pointers made per game at 3.9.
Storylines: Vanderbilt is playing its best basketball of the season. The Commodores have won 3 of 4 and four of their last six with the only losses coming in close contests against No. 1 Kentucky. The Gators were blown out by 13-15 Georgia on Saturday, ending its 3-game losing streak. With Kentucky still on the Gators’ schedule, this game appears to be for second place in the SEC and the second seed in the conference tournament. With a win, Florida would clinch the No. 2 seed.
Keys: Florida forced 17 turnovers and beat the Commodores 73-65 on Feb. 4. Four Gators scored in double-figures, led by Boynton’s 18. Taylor had a game-high 25. The Gators lead the SEC with 15.2 assists per game and a 1.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Walker leads the league at 4.8 and 2.4-to-1. Florida leads the nation by making 10.1 3-pointers per contest. Vandy is 11th with 8.8. The Gators made a season-low five 3s (only 23 attempts) in Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs. Vandy leads the conference in 3-point percentage at 39.8 and Florida is second at 39.4. Vandy has much stronger 3-point defense, however. The Commodores allow opponents to shoot 31.9 percent from deep, while Florida surrenders 34.9 percent. The Gators have four players who average double-figures and another (Erik Murphy) scores 9.9. Florida is second in the SEC in scoring at 77.7 points per game and the Vandy is third at 73.9. The two teams also rank second and third in field goal percentage with the Gators shooting 46.5 and the Commodores 46.4 from the floor. Vanderbilt leads the all-time series 63-60, but the Gators have beaten the Commodores 22 of 33 times, including the last four, under coach Billy Donovan. Vandy is 12-5 at home this season. The Commodores are 5-2 at Memorial Gym in SEC play and have won three of their last four at home. Florida has struggled to a 4-6 mark on the road, but the Gators have won four of their last six away from home.
The Bottom Line: If the Commodores can keep the turnovers to a minimum, they should pull away from a big victory.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 76, Florida 67
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 81-51