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Colleges

Gators top Vandy for seventh straight win

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:30 PM

Florida appears to have these short turnarounds figured out.

Of course, it helps when the Gators are making 3-pointers and forcing turnovers.

Kenny Boynton scored 18 points, Bradley Beal added 16 and No. 12 Florida beat No. 25 Vanderbilt 73-65 Saturday for its seventh consecutive victory.

The Gators (19-4, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) won for the second time in about 36 hours, improving to 5-0 on two-day turnarounds this season. They are 6-1 in Saturday games that follow Thursday night affairs in the three years the SEC has scheduled those.

The latest one had everything to do with 3-pointers and turnovers.

Florida made 11 of 24 shots from behind the arc and forced Vanderbilt into 17 turnovers, most of them coming in the press.

"Our press was the reason we won the game because we were able to force turnovers and get them to play fast and keep them from running their sets," Beal said. "We were really patient and then we trapped hard and we were able to rotate and force turnovers. … It's probably our best performance."

Vanderbilt (16-7, 5-3) had been able to overcome turnovers issues in recent weeks, winning at Marquette, at South Carolina and at Alabama with at least 17 turnovers. No such luck in Gainesville.

"We didn't do a very good job of attacking (the press)," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "It was disruptive and we did a poor job with our spacing. We did a poor job with our ball handling. It caused problems."

The Commodores had their hands full defending Boynton and Beal, too.

The guards came up huge in the second half. Beal scored 14 points after the break. Boynton drained a 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining after the Commodores made it a four-point game and then sank two free throws with 25.9 seconds left to seal Florida's 19th consecutive victory at home.

Erving Walked scored 11 points for Florida, and Mike Rosario had 10 off the bench.

Jeffery Taylor led the Commodores with 25 points. John Jenkins, the league's leading scorer, added 15.

"We did a really poor job handling the pressure," Taylor said. "We had a lot of turnovers that resulted in easy points for them."

Vanderbilt used a 9-0 run early in the second half to take a 43-40 lead, and was up 49-46 before Florida took over.

Beal started a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer. He added a tip-in and another 3 in the spurt. Just when it looked like the Gators were going to pull away, they went four minutes without a field goal. Vandy had plenty of chances to retake the lead, but Beal's driving layup with 2:04 left made it a six-point game again.

"I was really proud of Brad because he didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the first half," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He didn't have a great first half; he didn't do a whole lot. But then he knocked down a big 3 that gave us the lead, had a great transition drive and he got fouled one time going to the rim. He made a lot of really, really good plays and really impacted the game the last 10 minutes and made some big plays for us."

Boynton's shot from behind the arc was equally huge.

The Gators closed it out from the free throw line, making 16 of 17 in the game and 14 of 14 in the second half.

"We've got good shooters and we expect to make them," Walker said. "When we miss them, we're surprised."

Vanderbilt lost consecutive games for the second time this season and likely will drop out of The Associated Press college basketball poll.

"We tried to come in here and get a good start, but the press hurt us a lot," Jenkins said. "That was the main difference in the game."

The Gators survived all sorts of early foul trouble to lead 37-34 at halftime.

Patric Young played just three minutes before picking up his second foul. Erik Murphy and Beal joined him on the bench late in the first half with two apiece.

With the three starters sidelined, the Gators turned to bench players Will Yeguete, Rosario, Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather. Yeguete had eight rebounds in 16 minutes, and Rosario scored 10 points in 12 minutes.

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