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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Too Little, Too Late: Early struggles doom UF against Vandy

<p>UF guard KeVaughn Allen drives down the court during Florida’s 68-62 win over LSU on Jan. 9, 2016, in the O’Connell Center.</p>

UF guard KeVaughn Allen drives down the court during Florida’s 68-62 win over LSU on Jan. 9, 2016, in the O’Connell Center.

KeVaughn Allen’s three-pointer was good, a last-second, desperation heave from the corner that found the bottom of the net as time expired.

The freshman looked down in disappointment.

There was no celebration as he walked off Memorial Gym and into Florida’s locker room.

Allen had done everything for the Gators, scoring 11 points in the game’s final 32 seconds, connecting on half of his 12 field goal attempts and making three of his four shots behind the arc.

Despite Allen's effort, the Gators fell to the Commodores 60-59 on Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee, finishing just short of an impressive comeback after falling into a deep hole early in the game.

The Gators (13-7, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) ended the game shooting 32.9 percent from the field and connecting on just seven of its 22 three-pointers.

"I’m just disappointed in the miscues, especially in the first half. Did we play hard down the stretch? Yeah we did. We kept competing," UF coach Mike White said. "We left a lot out on the floor and gave ourselves a chance late."

Florida’s first half was one to forget. The first sign came early in the game when Florida center Schuyler Rimmer found himself unguarded underneath the net, only to have his layup bounce high off the top of the backboard and back to Vanderbilt.

UF proceeded to miss nine of its first 12 shots and 11 of its first 12 three-point attempts, a sharp contrast to its win over Auburn on Saturday that saw it connect on nearly half of its three-pointers.

There were turnovers, there were uncontested misses, and there wasn’t much hope for Florida until late in the second half.

Trailing 52-43, Kasey Hill made a three-pointer with 2:19 left in the game to trim the deficit to six points.

The junior added to his team-high-tying 16 points by making a layup with 55 seconds remaining to cut the Commodores’ lead to six.

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Allen went on to score Florida’s last 11 points, but late free throws by Vanderbilt (12-8, 4-4 SEC) gave Florida its first loss in its last four games.

"We don’t want to make any excuses. We had some good looks," White said. "We were just facing a really good defensive team."

Along with Allen’s 16 points, forward Dorian Finney-Smith added 12 points and 14 rebounds in his sixth double double of the season and fifth in conference play.

Sophomore Chris Chiozza contributed 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Florida missed the energy and efficiency of forward Justin Leon, who was ruled out after being hit in the head with an elbow early in the first half. Since taking over a starting role at the beginning of SEC play against Georgia on Jan. 2, the junior has made 62.8 percent of his field goal attempts and provided solid perimeter defense.

"We had a lot of adversity tonight. Justin being out, a couple of silly fouls in the first half, poor free throws," said White, whose team went 6-of-10 from the foul line. "We weren’t able to overcome Vanderbilt’s defensive effort."

Florida will head home to face No. 9 West Virginia on Saturday at noon.

"You lose the game by one point, and out of the 10 or 15 miscues, if you limit those to six or eight, you come out of here with a huge win," White said. "There’s a little bit of positive that you can take and a lot of things that we can learn from."

A radio broadcast contributed to this report.

Contact Ian Cohen at icohen@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @icohenb.

UF guard KeVaughn Allen drives down the court during Florida’s 68-62 win over LSU on Jan. 9, 2016, in the O’Connell Center.

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