The press was by design, but Florida also went with it more by necessity. The Gators watched film of Tuesday when Vanderbilt played at Arkansas, and the Razorbacks created issues with their press. Vanderbilt turned the ball over 11 times in Fayetteville, but the Gators used their press to create more problems, as the Commodores turned it over 17 times Saturday.
When foul trouble shortened the Florida bench in the first half, Donovan didn't have much of a choice but to go to it full time. Patric Young played just three minutes in the first half while power forward Erik Murphy played just eleven minutes before picking up his second foul.
When Brad Beal joined the group on the bench with two fouls at the 5:17-mark of the first half, Florida went as small as it has all season. The four-guard lineup consisted of Walker, Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin.
"When Brad got his second foul, it really changed us on offense," Donovan said. "I'm trying to run plays for Scottie Wilbekin at the power forward spot. He has never played that before."
The press was dialed in as soon as Donovan went to it just a few minutes after the game started. When Will Yeguete replaced Young on the court, the sophomore forward was able to create issues in the backcourt. His quick hands helped Yeguete come away with a team-high three steals and plenty of other deflected passes.
Florida executed the press with patience. As soon as Vanderbilt inbounded the ball, the person who did so would run up the side of the court. If Florida used the double team on the player with the ball, he could easily throw over the top of it to break the press and get the ball past midcourt.
"We had to be patient with our trapping," Beal said. "At first, they would just take the ball and throw it to the middle if we trapped immediately. We wanted to be patient and then trap. It was a big momentum boost for us."
Once the small lineup effectively used the press to help the Gators to leads as big as nine points in the first half, Donovan kept it on for a majority of the game. He started by using the press just to force Vanderbilt to pick up its tempo and change the way its offense ran. Once it started to create turnovers and produce instant offense for Florida, it was working too well to call it off.
"When we were able to get the press on, we had good offensive possessions and scored," Donovan said. "It was at least disruptive to take them out of their flow. They had to take shots out of the framework of their offense.
"When we did score, it got the game going up and down in a style that was more conducive to us."
Vanderbilt had a 49-46 lead with 12:22 left to play when the Florida press did its best work. The Commodores turned the ball over three times in a 2:24-minute span, helping Florida go on a 12-0 run behind eight points in that span from Beal. The press forced tipped passes that turned into layups and open shots.
"I thought they'd get through (the press) more easily," Boynton said. "We did a great job coming out with that press. We didn't expect to get so many steals."