Feb 14, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Mike White on the sideline during overtime against the Georgia Bulldogs at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Aiming For Win In Saturday Showdown with Vanderbilt

The Florida Gators have played the Vanderbilt Commodores more times since the 1949-1950 season than any other school besides Georgia and Kentucky. The two teams have met 125 times in that span. Vanderbilt has won 5 more games than Florida in the series, 65 to 60 to be exact. The Commodores and Gators met in the two squads’ SEC openers. UF took that one 81-74 in Gainesville. This time, the showdown is in Nashville on ESPN2 with a 4 p.m. tip on Saturday afternoon.

Crunch Time

If there’s time for a sense of urgency, now is the time. The Gators have lost 3 of their last 5 games and only have 5 games left on their schedule. In those 5 games, Florida will face 4 teams in the RPI Top 30 in Tennessee (13), Auburn (4), Alabama (30) and Kentucky (18). Vanderbilt is currently ranked 114th in RPI, nowhere near the caliber of their final four opponents. Nonetheless, the Gators know how tough the Commodores can be. In the Mike White era, UF is 1-5 against Vandy, with the only victory coming this season.

Point Guard Polarity

In the oddest of timing, Chris Chiozza had one of his worst games of the season against Georgia, while Michael Okauru had one of his best. Chiozza went 2-14 from the field and 0-2 at the free throw line, his worst shooting performance since he went 0-5 from the field on December 4 vs. FSU. Okauru on the other hand went 5-6 from the floor and 2-3 from long-range. The freshman guard finished the contest with 14 points, marking only the third time this season he’s recorded double-digit scoring. “Money Mike” now leads the team in three-point percentage and is knocking down shots from beyond the arc at a 43.6% clip.

Nashville Blues

The Commodores have had a season to forget. The team is 10-16 on the year and 4-9 in the SEC. They’ve lost 8 of their last 12 games. Vanderbilt has the ability to score and ranks third in effective field goal percentage during SEC play. They’re also ranked 44th in the nation in offensive efficiency. Adversely, the squad is ranked dead last in conference play in defensive efficiency and give up a ton of easy, two-point baskets. The Commodores are without their third-leading scorer, Matthew Fisher-Davis, who tore his labrum in late January.

Riley LaChance, formerly one of the best pure shooters in the NCAA, has been on a tear over the team’s last 8 games. During that span, LaChance is averaging 18 points and 3.9 assists per game on 47.3% shooting from the field and 40% shooting from beyond the arc. Jeff Roberson has also had an impressive 8-game stretch. He’s averaging 19.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game on 52.1% shooting from the floor and 39.5% shooting from downtown over that span.

Injury Update

Mike White has given no new update on John Egbunu (knee). He said that Isaiah Stokes (knee) has made a lot of weight loss progress and that Chase Johnson (concussion) has been symptom-free for the last three weeks. Unfortunately, it may be too late in the season to burn either of those twos’ redshirts.

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