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Wednesday January 31, 2007No. 1 Florida Comes Back to Defeat No. 24 Vanderbilt 74-64

Gainesville, FL

Junior Taurean Green (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) scored nine points on a 13-0 run to open the second half as the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators (20-2, 7-0) came back to defeat the No. 24 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (15-7, 5-3), 74-64, on Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Florida matched the school’s best start ever in Southeastern Conference play by picking up its seventh league victory on the season.

 

Florida trailed 41-30 at halftime and was down by as many as 12, but the 13-0 run paced by Green put the Gators up 43-41 with 16:03 remaining. The 12-point deficit is the largest that Florida has overcome for a win this season. Green’s nine points on the run came via two three-pointers and three made free throws following a pair technical fouls on the Vanderbilt bench. Then, after the teams exchanged baskets, senior Lee Humphrey (Maryville, Tenn.) caught the hot hand for UF connecting on three three-points over a minute and a half stretch extending the Gators advantage to 54-47. The Gators then turned to the inside game to maintain control of the game as juniors Joakim Noah (New York, N.Y.) and Al Horford (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) scored the next 13 points for Florida as the lead built to 67-59 with just 4:37 remaining. The Gator advantage grew to as many as 12 points before the game finished with the 10 point margin of victory.   

 

Florida joins the 2003 Gator squad as the only two teams in school history to open up 7-0 in league play while also extending its current win streak to 13 games. The victory was the Gators’ 20th overall, marking the first time in school history that a squad has reached 20 wins before the end of January. Florida picked up its ninth consecutive 20-win season under head coach Billy Donovan after having only five in the previous 77 years before his arrival.  

 

Noah led the Gators in scoring with 19 points as four Gators scored in double figures. Horford dropped 12 points and pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds to pick up his eighth double-double of the season and 20th of his career. Humphrey netted 15 points, all coming from behind the arc where he was 5-for-8 shooting. Green finished with 13 points including 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Humphrey and Green tied for a game-high four assists. 

 

Perhaps biggest tale of the tape was the difference in play between the first and second halves. The Gators held Vanderbilt to just 23 points in the second half, after the Commodores were able to put up 41 in the first half. On the other hand, the Gators scored just 30 points in the first half, but outpoured for 44 in the second. The Gators improved from shooting 29 percent (9-for-31) in the first half to 73 percent (16-for-22) in the second half. Vanderbilt held Florida without a made shot from the floor for nearly eight minutes in the first half, however Florida managed to keep the game within 12 by making 5-of-6 free throws.

 

The game opened up closely contested with a pair of ties and lead changes before the Commodores built a 16-9 lead. The Gators bounced back as junior Corey Brewer (Portland, Tenn.) scored five points to a pace a 9-0 run to retake the led at 18-16. However, Vanderbilt answered with a 12-0 run to go back on top at 28-18. The Commodores held their biggest advantage of 12 points twice during the half before closing the period up 11 at 41-30. Noah led the Gators in scoring in the period with 11 points including 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Derrick Byars paced VU with 14 points in the half.

 

Byars finished with a game-high 21 points for the Commodores, but was the only VU player to score in double figures.

 

The Gators have now won seven straight over Vanderbilt and 12 of the last 13 matchups between the schools. The Commodores saw a four game conference winning streak, that included road wins over Kentucky and LSU, come to an end.

 

Up next, UF squares off against the Tennessee Volunteers (15-7, 3-4) on Sat., February 3. Tip-off for the contest with the Gators is schedule for 3 p.m. ET.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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