Gators preparing for Vandy’s 3-point attack

The Commodores come into Tuesday’s game with the fourth most made three-pointers and the top three-point percentage in the Southeastern Conference.

Sophomore center Damian Jones, averaging 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, leads Vanderbilt. He has only five three-point attempts on the season, but everyone else can create problems for Florida on the perimeter. Of the remaining four starters, forward Jeff Roberson has 24 three-pointer attempts and the other three all have at least 50 attempts.

While Jones can dominate and score in the paint, the Commodores like to surround him with four three-point shooters to keep teams from doubling Jones in the post.

“They can have, outside of Jones, four three-point shooters on the floor. When they’ve shot the ball well, they’ve won. It’s been pretty considerable behind the three-point line, their percentages and what they’ve been able to do. They’ve got a mixture of inside out that they can really play out of and I would say that for the most part that they’re a team that’s pretty dominant wanting to go inside to Jones.”

Vanderbilt’s reliance on the three-point line is bad news for a Florida defense that has struggled to stop that. After winning their SEC opener against Auburn, the Commodores have lost seven straight games and are trying to break that streak on Tuesday against Florida. Slowing Vanderbilt on the three-point line is the first big step for the Gators to eliminate the threat of an upset.

“It’s going to be hard to guard their action,” Finney-Smith said. “They run good sets. They run screening plays to get their bigs shots so that’s a little unique. They’ve got a lot of great shooters so that’s a little unique. We’ve just got to focus there. They’ve got a lot of great shooters so we’ve got to guard the 3-point line this game. That’s something we’ve struggled with.”

Another challenge for Florida will be the unique shooting backdrops of Memorial Gym. Opposing teams have historically struggled to shoot at Vanderbilt because of the uniqueness of the gym, looking more like a theater than a basketball arena.

Florida went 8-22 from behind the three-point line last season, but the big breakout came from Finney-Smith. He brought a shooting slump into the game, and on a night when other Florida shooters struggled, he carried the load and led the team with 19 points. Taking his numbers out, the rest of the team with 5-16 from behind the three-point line.

The Gators will go through shoot around tomorrow before the game and have time to adjust to the backdrop then.

“We’ll get in there, and we’ll have plenty of time with shoot around and those type of things to get acclimated to the place,” Donovan said. “There were some guys who played there last year, so there is some familiarity. I think we’ll have plenty of time to prepare and get used to the building.”

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