Gators down Commodores for share of SEC titleFeb 26, 2014 - 3:43 AM Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Florida went five-plus minutes without a field goal down the stretch and found its program-record 19-game winning streak hanging in the balance.
But Dorian Finney-Smith drained a 3-pointer with 30.6 seconds left and the top-ranked Gators secured at least a share of the SEC regular-season title with a 57-54 victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Memorial Gymnasium.
Florida (26-2, 15-0 SEC) led 53-45 with 5:42 to play before going the next five-plus minutes without a field goal, allowing the Commodores to pull within two following a pair of Kyle Fuller free throws with a minute to play.
Finney-Smith drained a triple near the top of the arc at the other end to push the spread to five, but Fuller answered with a layup and Scottie Wilbekin missed the front end of a one-and-one with 10 seconds left to leave the door open for the home team.
However, following a timeout with 6.6 ticks to play, Fuller misfired on a trey and Dai-Jon Parker's putback attempt was off the mark, allowing the newest top-ranked team in the country to escape unscathed.
"When I got it I thought I created enough space, but when it left my hand it just didn't feel right," Fuller said of his final shot.
Finney-Smith finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Patric Young added 12 points and seven boards to help the Gators continue their best start in program history.
"It was just me having confidence in my shot," Finney-Smith said of his big night. "I was kind of in a shooting slump, but my teammates did a great job telling me to just keep shooting the ball."
Rod Odom paced the Commodores (15-12, 7-8) with 12 points, while Parker added 11 points and six rebounds in the loss, Vanderbilt's fourth in its last six games.
Early on, Vanderbilt led 11-9 following Luke Kornet's dunk just over seven minutes in, but the Gators responded with 13 straight points, capped by a pair of 3-pointers from Michael Frazier II, to build an 11-point spread with 8:35 left in the first half.
The Commodores pulled within four twice from there before Wilbekin banked in a fadeaway from the left elbow with under 10 seconds left to send the Gators into the break with a 32-25 advantage.
The margin reached 12 early in the second half following a Finney-Smith three- point play, but the Commodores countered with a 12-3 surge to get within 48-45 with 7:47 left.
The Gators answered with five straight points to grab an eight-point edge with just over 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
Florida set a school record with its 15th conference win this season ... Despite the loss, Vanderbilt still leads the all-time series, 64-62 ... Florida's bench outscored Vanderbilt's reserves, 25-11 ... The Gators scored 13 second-chance points, compared to just one from the Commodores.
- FLORIDA: 57
Feb 25 9:06 PM
- FLORIDA: 32
Feb 25 7:51 PM
- FLORIDA: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Feb 25 7:07 PM
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