Gators Outlast Vandy in OT

Chandler Parsons struggled to make free throws early in the season with no pressure. With the game on the line, it's doubtful his trip to the free throw stripe would've ended well. However, the new improved Parsons that has helped Florida (17-5) to a 6-2 record in conference play has been relaxed under pressure.

The senior stepped confidently to the line Tuesday night and hit two free throws with 15 seconds left to give the Gators a 65-61 win over Vanderbilt (15-6, 3-4 SEC) in overtime.

"I thought Chandler played really well tonight," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "He rebounded the ball, he was aggressive, and he was physical. He did a lot of good things for us all around."

With 1:40 left in overtime, Vanderbilt had the momentum and a one-point lead after Lance Goulbourne went around Parsons for a layup, giving him only four points in the game.

Florida struggled to get in rhythm on the next possession, but Erving Walker penetrated the defense late in the shot clock. He saw Boynton in his peripheral standing in the corner behind the three-point line. That's when Boynton gave the Gators their final lead by drilling the shot over the outstretched arms of the defender.

He was 3-for-12 from the field and 2-for-8 from behind the three-point line before that shot. No matter how bad he struggles in a game, Boynton always seems to come up with a big shot when his team needs it.

"The thought the big point in the game was Boynton's three out of the corner," Donovan said.

Boynton didn't rest on his achievement after that. Instead, he focused on defending Vanderbilt John Jenkins, who came into the game leading the SEC in scoring at 19.1 points per game.

Jenkins was forced to take a deep, off-balance three-pointer because of Boynton's defense. The shot fell short of the rim and went out of bounds, giving Florida the ball with 45 seconds left.

However, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings wasn't happy. He thought Boynton fouled Jenkins on the attempt.

"He doesn't shoot many air balls," Stallings said. "I've watched him play for a long time- haven't seen many air balls come off that kid's hands. I'm pretty sure there was a reason there was an air ball."

Parsons missed a jumper on the next possession, but he got his own offensive rebound with 16 seconds remaining, and the Commodores were forced to foul him. He sunk the throw free throws, and Florida snuck out with a win.

Florida held an eight-point lead twice in the second half, including with only 4:51 left in the game. The Commodores got hot and charged all the way back, tying the game on two free throws by Jenkins with 23 seconds left. Walker took an off balance shot for Florida at the end of regulation, but it clanged off the back of the rim and sent the game to an extra five minutes.

Part of the reason for Vanderbilt getting back in the game was a stagnant Florida offense. The Gators' final shot made from the field in regulation came as Patric Young hit a shot in the paint with 6:18 left in the second half. Florida missed its final eight shots from the field in regulation. Vanderbilt went only 2-for-7 from the field in that time, but they went 6-for-7 from the free throw line to make up the difference.

The physical nature of the game caused Vanderbilt's two centers, Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang, to foul out. That allowed the Florida players to get to the rim much easier near the end of overtime.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Gators as Kentucky comes to town on Saturday night at 9 p.m.

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