NASHVILLE, Tenn. | The anchor dropped again on the Florida Gators.

 

With a chance to beat Vanderbilt for the first time in three games this season, UF missed a foul shot and two layups on their final two possessions in regulation, and were then blitzed 14-4 by the Commodres in overtime to get a rude exit from the SEC tournament on Friday with a 72-62 loss at the Bridgestone Arena.


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No. 17-ranked and second-seeded Florida (24-9) not only fell to seventh-seeded Vandy (19-14) for the fifth time in a row, covering the last two seasons, but they limp into next week’s NCAA tournament with losses in three of their last four games. UF will find out its regional location and opponent on Sunday.

Vanderbilt will play the Arkansas-Ole Miss winner in the semifinals on Saturday. Kentucky will face Alabama in the other semifinal.

“It was a really hard-fought game … I thought both teams left it out there on the floor,” said Florida coach Mike White. “We had our opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. Troubled, offensively, obviously, against a Vanderbilt team defending at a really high level.”

The Gators were plagued by frigid shooting the entire game and trailed 57-49 with 3:23 left in regulation. However, KeVaughn Allen and Kasey Hill hit 3-point shots during an 8-0 run, with Allen’s tying the game at 57-57 with 1:41 remaining.

The Commodres came up empty on their next two possesions, both misses by Matthew Fisher-Davis. UF’s Devin Robinson drove for a layup that rattled out but he was fouled and made the back end with 24.6 seconds left for a one-point lead. Jeff Roberson did the same for the Commdores, with 9.7 seconds left to re-tie the game and set the stage for the final play.

Hill drove the lane right at Vandy’s 7-foot center Luke Kornet, missed the layup, and Kevarrius Hayes missed the follow-up to send the game into the extra period.

“He got me turned,” Kornet said about Hill’s drive. “I closed my eyes and jumped. Luckily it didn’t fall.”

Hill said “it was a good look … I just missed it.”

It was no contest after that. Riley LaChance made a layup, Nolan Cressler rammed home a deep 3-pointer after a Hill turnover, and before the Gators could score from the field, Vanderbilt had a 69-59 lead.

“We could have folded three or four times in that game,” said Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew.

White had the answer: “they were the better team.”

Allen and Hill led the Gators with 16 points each, but both also shot 5 of 16 from the floor. Robinson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Canyon Barry, UF’s No. 2 scorer behind Allen, was blanked for the night, missing all three of his attempts.

Florida shot a season low of .344 from the floor and made only 6 of 23 3-point attempts.

“The ball just didn’t go in,” Hill said.

Vandy shot .429, its worst in the three games against the Gators this year, as a matchup zone and a press gave them problems.

“I thought it was the best we defended them all year, outside of a handful of mistakes,” White said.

LaChance led all scorers with 18 points, sinking 4 of 7 3-point attempts. Roberson had 16 points and eight rebounds and Kornet had 12 points and 10 rebounds.