By Charles Kane (Twitter: @ckane02)
With 14:30 left in the second half, Florida head coach Billy Donovan called a timeout to spark some life into a team playing with so much on the line.
The No.11 Florida Gators (24-5, 14-3) hosted their senior night Wednesday and with a win they would not only have an undefeated home record but would also clinch the Southeastern Conference title outright.
The Vanderbilt Commodores (13-16, 7-10) were within seven of Florida's lead before a sloppy sequence led to a bailout three by Michael Frazier with more than 14 minutes remaining. A full timeout was used to get everyone together for a team conference and to say that this helped would be an understatement.
Florida caught fire immediately after play resumed from the timeout. A Patric Young steal led to an Erik Murphy 3-pointer and the momentum grew from there. After the timeout the Gators' regulars shot 11-14 from the field including 5-7 from 3-point range. Florida was also 7-7 from the free throw line during this span. The Gators missed four shots (2-6) in the opening five minutes of the second half after scoring their second-lowest first half point total of the season. They missed just three shots in 12 minutes following the second half timeout.
The Gators' defense played just as efficient as they grabbed two steals and forced the Commodores to shoot just 4-17 from the field.
The 32-14 run lasted from the 14:30 mark until there was 2:18 remaining. Donovan took out the regulars including the seniors who played their last game in the O'Connell Center.
Florida eventually won 66-40 and had another undefeated 15-0 season at home. The Gators' last season without losing a game at home came during the NCAA championship winning 2006-07 season. This is Florida's fourth undefeated season in program history. Florida has now won 12 out of its last 13 games against Vanderbilt at home. Tonight they stopped a modest three game winning streak for the Commodores.
Kenny Boynton led the way for Florida's scorers with 15 points on 3-7 shooting from downtown. All but two of Boynton's points came in the second half. Fellow senior Erik Murphy added 10 points and six rebounds. Another senior, Mike Rosario, pitched in with five points and three assists. All in all it was a successful senior night for the three of them.
Patric Young had an efficient game with 14 points on 6-7 shooting, four rebounds and three blocks. He also added another highlight slam dunk off of a Rosario alley-oop pass. Young scored 10 of Florida's first 19 points and let the seniors dominate the second half.
Florida's defense as a whole was stingy all night long. Vanderbilt shot just 14-52 (26.9%) from the field including 4-24 (16.7%) from 3-point range. Kedren Johnson was the only Commodore who outplayed the Gators' defense finishing with 15 points on 5-9 shooting. The rest of the team shot 9-43 (20.9%).
Florida's next game is its regular season finale at Kentucky (20-9, 11-5) at 12:00 p.m.