Florida Gators beat Vandy 71-55 for 5th straight victory
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Andrew Nembhard scored 19 points, and Florida beat Vanderbilt 71-55 Wednesday night to extend the Gators’ winning streak to a season-high five straight.
The Gators (17-11, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) also swept Vanderbilt with their first victory at Memorial Gym since 2014, and coach Mike White experienced his first win at any level at the SEC’s oldest gym. White had been 0-9 as a player and an assistant coach who also lost his first three trips here as Florida’s head coach.
Vanderbilt’s worst skid in program history reached 16 straight as the Commodores (9-19, 0-15) never really threatened.
Nemhard, who hit his first six shots, had 12 by halftime. Jalen Hudson added 17 points, and Kevarrius Hayes had 14.
Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 15 points, and Simisola Shittu and Matthew Moyer each added 10. Aaron Nesmith, Vandy’s leading scorer in SEC play, was held to six points.
Nemhard scored seven of the Gators’ first nine points, including an opening 3 that put Florida ahead to stay, and the Gators led 25-12 midway through the half. Vanderbilt finally knocked down some shots, and Moyer’s 3 pulled the Commodores within 34-27 with 2:20 left. Allen answered with a 3 as the Gators finished the half on a 7-2 run for a 41-29 halftime lead.
The Gators opened the second half on a 6-1 run, and Allen’s jumper with 18:28 to go gave Florida its biggest lead yet at 47-30. Nemhard’s 3 with 14:55 left made it 50-32 as the Gators seemed easily in control.
Vanderbilt fought back with a 12-4 run and pulled within 54-44 on a 3-pointer by Lee with 10:25 left. The Gators scored the next nine points and pushed the lead back to 18 down the stretch.
Florida: The Gators absolutely needed this victory ahead of a tough closing week featuring a visit from No. 13 LSU and a trip to Rupp Arena to play No. 4 Kentucky. Now they’ve got their longest winning streak in league play since winning eight straight in 2016-17.
Vanderbilt: Points off turnovers has been among the Commodores’ biggest issues during this skid. The Commodores came into this game being outscored 249-129 just during the past 15 games, and they found themselves outscored by turnovers once again 17-4. Now 8-9 at home, they will need to beat Arkansas in the home finale to salvage a .500 record for the second time at Memorial Gym. They’ve never had a losing season on their home court.
Florida: Hosts Georgia on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt: Visits Texas A&M on Saturday.
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