Winning close games is starting to become a mantra for this Florida Gators basketball team. They won on the road again, defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores 57-54.
This season the Gators are an impressive 13-2 in games decided by nine points or less. A huge improvement when you compare it to last year’s team that went 0-6 in those types of games.
The Gators struggled receiving any offensive contributions, having only two player’s score in double figures. Senior center Patric Young recorded 12 points on 41 percent shooting from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds.
However, it was the play of sophomore forward Dorian Finney –Smith that helped Florida escape Memorial Gym with their 20th consecutive win of the season.
Finney-Smith had a team high 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting and snagged nine rebounds. More importantly, it was his three point shooting that made all the difference.
While he only went 3 for 6 on the night, it was his final attempt that couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment.
With two minutes remaining in the second half, the Gators had not recorded a field goal since around the sixth minute mark. Finney-Smith was fouled and went one for two on his free throws, making the score 54-50 with 2:42 to go.
A missed three pointer by senior guard Scottie Wilbekin and a foul committed by senior forward Will Yeguete put Vanderbilt’s senior guard Kyle Fuller to shoot the double bonus. Fuller sunk both, making the score 54-52 with a minute to go.
It wasn’t until 33 seconds left on the clock that Wilbekin found Finney-Smith on a ball reversal to hit the open three.
UF moves to 26-2 on the season, 15-0 in conference play and clinches a share of the SEC title. The Gators next game won’t be until Saturday as the return home to welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks.