Crummy Saturday for Gators

The Gator basketball team ended its game at Georgia on a 24-11 run. Trouble is they were down 67-52 when they started it. The Gators' inability to rally form a 15-point deficit in the second half has this team right back where it was a couple of games back, sitting atop the NCAA Tournament bubble needing another significant win.

Florida's loss spoiled a career high 29 points from Chandler Parsons and 22 more from Kenny Boynton who had his best 3-point shooting day of the season. Those two couldn't overcome Georgia making 57 percent of its shots from the field and 54 percent from behind the 3-point line.

It's debatable whether the Gators would have been "in" the field of 65 with a victory in Athens, but it ensures Florida needs a big win next week or two at the SEC tournament in order to avoid a third consecutive trip to the NIT.

Gator Bigs Come Up Small

Florida had been enjoying excellent play in the middle from Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus, but that was absent up in Athens. Tyus had his worst game of the year, if not his career against Georgia, failing to score while committing two turnovers and grabbing just four rebounds in 21 minutes. That paltry production was from a guy who entered the game with averages of 13.2/7.5. Macklin finished with 10 points and six rebounds, but Florida had no interior defense and Macklin was outplayed by Georgia reserve forward Jeremy Price 13/5 who didn't miss a shot.

In total, Georgia's three big men combined for 35 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Florida's trip of Macklin, Tyus and Dan Werner produced just 14 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.

SEC Recap

Four of the SEC's top six teams faced teams in the bottom half of the conference standings Saturday and Florida was the only one to lose. Ole Miss and Mississippi State closed the gap on the Gators for the No. 4 spot in the SEC pecking order with road wins over South Carolina and Alabama respectively. Vanderbilt dominated Arkansas to move to within a game of Kentucky for the SEC Title. Kentucky rallied from down 19 to tie Tennessee at 65 before the Vols regrouped and ended the game on a 9-0 run.

Vandy Looms Large

A week ago I wrote that the Tennessee game was the biggest for the Gator basketball team since the NCAA title game against Ohio State in 2007. It's hard to see the Vandy game being much less critical. It's also going to require every bit of the same focus and effort that took out Tennessee to beat a Vanderbilt team that might be a tougher one for Florida to match up with.

The Commodores will have a lot on the line, too. Kentucky's loss gives Vandy a ton of motivation for the game in the O'Dome Tuesday night. The Commodores can still claim a share of the SEC Title with wins over Florida and South Carolina and a Kentucky loss to either Georgia or Florida.

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