Florida Gators guard Will Richard lays in two of his 17 points Wednesday against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum. [Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports]

Gators Host Vanderbilt Looking To Bounce Back From Tough Loss

The No. 24 Florida Gators lost 98-93 in overtime to No. 13 Alabama on Wednesday, but proved their mettle.

In pushing the SEC leaders to their limit on the road, the Gators (18-8, 8-5 SEC) proved they are top competitors in the conference.

Now, Florida has a great chance to get back to its winning ways Saturday against Vanderbilt (7-19, 2-11), which is among the bottom feeders in the SEC.

Gators Dominant At Offensive Rebounding

The Gators are ranked third in the entire nation by KenPom in offensive rebounding. 7-foot-1 center Micah Handlogten and 6-10 forward Tyrese Samuel are dominant on the offensive glass. The two are averaging a combined 15.5 rebounds per game this season. This could cause the Commodores real problems.

Vandy actually did a good job against a team that is dominant on the offensive boards in Texas A&M, winning that game at home 74-73.

That being said, Vanderbilt has been shaky defensively all season, so the Gators could get hot shooting the basketball and not even need to decimate the Commodores in terms of rebounding.

Shooting: Advantage, Florida

The Gators have a prolific pair of guards in Walter Clayton Jr. and Zyon Pullin to lead their offense. This season, Pullin scores 15.6 points per game and shoots 40.3% from 3-point range and Clayton scores 16.8 points per game and shoots 34.8% from deep.

Vanderbilt does not have a starter who can match Clayton’s shooting percentage from behind the arc.

The Commodores’ leading scorer, Ezra Manjon, averages 14.0 points per game, but shoots just 30.8% from 3.

If Florida’s starting backcourt heats up, the Commodores could be in deep trouble.

Gators Push The Pace

Florida ranks 14th in the nation in possession per game with 75.9. With the elite guard play and offensive mentality, the Gators are looking to get up the court in a hurry.

Vanderbilt, in comparison, is 278th in the nation with 68.6 possessions per game.

The Gators’ blinding pace could cause Vandy to tire in the second half, which might also allow them to pull away.

The Game

The Gators and Commodores will tip off in the O’Connell Center at 1 p.m. on the SEC Network and 103.7-FM.

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