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The No. 1-ranked Gators extended their school-record win streak to 20 games Tuesday in Nashville.

Tuesday February 25, 2014At the Buzzer: Florida 57, Vanderbilt 54 (Instant Analysis)

The No. 1-ranked Gators extended their school-record win streak to 20 games Tuesday in Nashville.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer


WHAT HAPPENED: Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith came off the bench to score 19 points, including a dagger 3-pointer with 30.6 seconds to play, to lead the top-ranked Gators to victory Tuesday night in their first game since being anointed the No. 1 team in both major polls. Vandy guard Kyle Fuller had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but his 3-point shot clanged off the back iron and time expired on the upset-minded Commodores. Finney-Smith, the transfer from Virginia Tech, came into the game having made just one for his last 25 shots from beyond the arc, dating back his previous eight games. He went 3-for-6 from long distance against the Commodores to go with a game-high nine rebounds. It was by far his best performance since scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 boards in UF’s overtime win at Arkansas back on Jan. 11.

WHAT IT MEANS: The victory was UF’s 20 straight and clinched at least a piece of the SEC title with a perfect 15-0 mark in league play to date. The Gators, though, don’t want to share anything. They can win their third outright league title in four seasons with victories in just one of their final three regular-season games.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: This was “Doe-Doe’s” night. He needed a game like this, having struggled so much with his shot, hitting just 36.1 from the floor overall and 27.3 from 3-point range (not bad, actually, given that abysmal run over the last month). Finney-Smith is one of the most-liked players on the team and is selfless in his approach to the game. This was big for him.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: The Gators have now allowed their last six opponents to shoot a combined 48 percent from the floor and 42.8 percent from the 3-point line -- and have won all six games. Scary, scary, scary.

SUBPLOT: The Commodores began the night 8-16 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation, but had won four of the last five, including a victory over the 2007 Gators who went on to a second straight NCAA championship. Vandy hyped the game up as the next installment of “Memorial Magic,” but the Commodores needed more than history and intangibles to pull off the upset.

UP NEXT: After playing two straight on the road (and four of the last five), the Gators (26-2, 15-0) are home Saturday against a solid LSU (16-10, 7-7) squad that earlier this season defeated Kentucky and last weekend lost at Rupp Arena on a Julius Randle putback with less than four seconds to play. The Tigers are one of several middle-of-the-pack SEC teams in need of a big win to bolster their NCAA resume. They’re home against Texas A&M Wednesday before the trip to Gainesville.


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