"We had our opportunities that we just didn't take advantage of," said Florida head coach Mike White after the Gators' loss to Vanderbilt on Friday night. "Struggled offensively against a Vanderbilt team that's really defending at a high level, and I thought that we defended them at a pretty high level ourselves.
"I thought it was the best that we defended them this year outside of a handful of mistakes. We've got to find a way to be more disciplined, and that's on me," White added. "But hats off to those guys. They were terrific."
This is Florida's third loss to Vandy this season, however, the Commodores streak against the Gators has stretched for the last five games. Vanderbilt remains the only SEC team that Mike White has not beaten since taking over the reigns in Gainesville.
"They're very different than any other team in our league and they present both offensive and defensive challenges," said White on the Commodores. "Each team in our league is good, and we talked to our guys all the time about your RPI says that, your BPI, whatever, your computer number, synergy, but there are a handful of games in our league we went 14-4 that could have gone the other way. We're not just this dominant team that is just rolling through people.
"In these one, two, three possession games, sometimes a poor decision or lack of discipline or what have you, the ball bouncing, going halfway down and coming back out, sometimes that's a factor. We had a few of those today as well. Sometimes it just comes down to that."
Florida struggled offensively most of the night - shooting just 34.4% from the floor, 26.1% from downtown.
"I told Bryce, I think they're the most improved team during the season in the league," said White. "They've come a long, long way. As much as I thought they improved offensively during the season, I think they've made that same improvement defensively.
The Gators loss to the Commodores, not only knocked them out of the SEC tournament but also put their fate in the NCAA tournament in question.
Odds and Ends
On the game plan on the final nine seconds
"Space the floor. We've got one of the fastest guys in college basketball getting downhill. They actually picked him up a little bit higher than I thought, which was good for us. We were actually hoping we could set a high ball screen and space and pull Kornet out as far away from the basket as possible. He still turned those hips and got those feet moving and still was able to contest it. If I'm not mistaken, I know it was very much contested at the rim. I would assume it's Kornet, and similar to a couple looks we had last game, that he's got an ability to alter and we're hoping obviously that we could get to the rim, finish or get fouled with a couple shooters in the corners and just didn't work out for us."
On team's full court press in second half.
"It definitely changed the game. Our matchup zone we put in on Tuesday was pretty good to us as well, other than the lob in the first half. We've got to communicate a little bit better on a back screen, of course.
"But again, proud of those guys that they can carryover and have some focus and execute a matchup zone that literally we spent two days in practice just kind of tinkering with and then we hadn't pressed in a long time. We hadn't man-to-man pressed much this season at all. And I thought our speed guys led by Kasey and Chris, KeVaughn, they really put forth a lot of effort and energy."