UF Men’s Basketball Look For Third Straight Win Tonight Against Vandy

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team will look to make it three in a row on Tuesday night as they meet the Vanderbilt Commodores inside the Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tennessee. Both teams will be entering this game in two completely different places with the Gators sitting 5-3 in the SEC in a tie with five other teams while the Commodores sit an abysmal 1-7 in the lower tier of the SEC in a tie with the Missouri Tigers.

The Gators (12-9, 5-3) come into this match up riding a wave of momentum after their big win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Florida went into that game needing a big win at home and another veteran stepped up in a huge way for the second straight game.

Junior shooting guard Michael Frazier II failed to hit a shot beyond the arc for the second straight game and despite scoring just six points, hit two clutch free throws with under two seconds remaining to send the Gators with a much needed victory.

“We continued to battle and fight,” Donovan said. “We hung in there defensively and I thought for the most part we tried to maintain a high level of intensity.”

Another veteran that has just been sensational for the Gators is redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith. After scoring the game winning basket against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the former Virginia Tech transfer carried over that late momentum he received into Saturday’s performance where he finished as the only Gator in double figures. Doe-Doe finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, simply carrying the team when they needed him most.

“I don’t allow myself to feel any pressure,” Finney-Smith said. “I just go out there with no expectations and my only expectation is to play hard.”

Obviously the Gators will need more of a supporting cast in order to maintain success but if there’s one thing fans must be happy with, it’s the success of Florida’s bigs as of late. Against Alabama head coach Billy Donovan saw quite possibly the best performance out of sophomore forward Chris Walker who finished with 12 points and against Arkansas, fans may have seen a resurgence out of senior Jon Horford who finished with eight points, shooting 3-of-3 from the field.

However the problem with these guys has been consistency and Donovan will certainly be looking for that from each and every one of his guys on a game to game basis.

“There is a streakiness to us,” Donovan said. “You know we’ve spent time the last few days in practice at trying to finish around the basket and obviously have tried to work on shooting and those types of things.”

The Vanderbilt Commodores (11-10, 1-7) will be entering this game with very, very little success as of late having lost their last seven games. The Commodores began SEC play with a win over Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers but have gone winless in the league since.  On paper however, Kevin Stalling’s squad have been better than people would think.

The Commodores currently lead the SEC in both shooting percentage from the field (47 percent) and from beyond the arc (37 percent) so the Gators will be in for a very tough test defensively.

“It’s going to be hard to guard their action,” Finney-Smith said. “They run good sets and they run screen plays to get their bigs shots. They have good shooters and we have to guard the three point line this game and that’s something we struggle at.”

The Commodores currently have two players averaging double figures, in sophomore center Damian Jones who is averaging over 15 points per game and freshman guard Riley LaChance who is averaging just over 12 per contest. Vanderbilt’s three top scorers are all underclassmen but Donovan notes their talent pool is large.

“They’ve got a mixture of inside and out,” Donovan said. “I would say that for the most part they’re a team that likes to go inside to Jones. Then they have Kornet who’s seven feet who’s a really unique guy in our league who can step away from the basket and shoot it.”

The Commodores lead the all-time series 64-62 but the Gators have won six of the last seven meetings and are 24-12 under Donovan. This will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season and a win Tuesday night will be very important for both parties involved.

You can hear all the action on Country 103.7 the Gator with coverage starting at 8:25 followed by tip at 9.

To hear the audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan discusses Vanderbilt

Billy Donovan says his team battled against Arkansas

Billy Donovan talks about his guys inconsistencies on offense

Dorian Finney-Smith talks about defending Vandy

Dorian Finney-Smith on his mentality

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