Mike White knew his team would have trouble shooting.
So, when Florida’s coach saw an open Chris Chiozza holding the ball behind the three-point line in the second half, White yelled at his sophomore guard from the bench.
"Shoot the ball, shoot the ball," White said after the game. "I wish two or three of those times, he would’ve just shot it."
Instead, Chiozza pump faked, drove into the paint and passed out to a teammate on the perimeter, who missed a jump shot.
In Florida’s 60-59 loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday, made shots were few and far between.
By halftime, the Gators had gone 0-for-10 from three-point range and shot 21.2 percent from the field, three days after shooting higher than 50-percent in both categories at the break against Auburn.
After UF’s loss to Vanderbilt, White credited the Commodores’ defense, particularly its 7-foot-1 rim protector Luke Kornet.
"When they make you drive it, you’re driving it in there to 7-footers with length, and then you pitch it to guys who may not be as good a shooter as you," White said. "They’re just really good defensively. You don’t have a lot of time, you don’t have a lot of space."
Behind Kornet, who leads the Southeastern Conference in blocks at 3.3 per game, Vanderbilt’s defense suffocated Florida for the first half and much of the second half, amassing nine blocks and holding UF to its worst shooting night of the season.
But despite VU’s stingy defense, the Gators managed to get off 70 shots, tied for their second-most this season.
"It’s crazy. Crazy. We took 26 more shots (than Vanderbilt)," White said. "It was an odd game. An ugly game."
Allen comes in clutch:
Overlooked in the loss was the effort and clutch play of freshman guard KeVaughn Allen, who single-handedly kept Florida in the game with under a minute left.
At the 32 second mark and with UF trailing 55-48, Allen made his first three-pointer of the night.
Eight seconds later, Allen drove into the body of Vanderbilt’s 7-foot center Damian Jones, faded backwards and hit a jumper off the backboard to draw UF closer.
Allen made another three with eight seconds remaining and followed with a three-pointer at the buzzer to draw Florida within one point as the clock expired.
Allen finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added two steals. Since the start of SEC play, the freshman is averaging 13.9 points per game on 47.1-percent shooting.
On Monday, he was named to the Wayman Tisdale Award’s midseason watch list, a recognition given to the nation’s top freshman at the end of the year.
Leon suffers head injury:
Junior forward Justin Leon went down with an injury early in Tuesday night’s loss to Vanderbilt. After an elbow hit him in the head, Leon was brought back to Florida’s locker room and ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Leon is averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but since taking over as a starter against Georgia on Jan. 2, the junior is averaging 9.7 points per game and shooting 62.8 percent from the field.
"I don’t want to assume anything," White said of Leon’s injury on Tuesday. "He got hit in the head and he didn’t feel very well."