Gators Pick Up Huge OT Win At Vandy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Florida senior Matt Bonner (left) got all the help he needed from freshmen Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson.

Bonner scored all 17 of his points in the second half as No. 7 Florida avoid its second loss in Tennessee in a week, rallying to beat Vanderbilt 77-74 in overtime Saturday night.

Walsh scored 19 points, including the last four of overtime, and Roberson hit the biggest shot of the game with 4.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

"Those were two huge statements of character," Bonner said.

"Peep (Roberson) has missed a few shots in a row, but for him to have confidence to step up and take that shot is huge. And Matt had a couple of turnovers but he didn't hang his head."

Walsh also led the Gators (22-4, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) with 10 rebounds and three assists.

Matt Freije scored 24 points for the Commodores (10-13, 3-9), who lost their fifth straight. Mario Moore and David Przybyszewski each added 14 points.

"Matt Freije is a great player. He stepped up and put that team on his back. We didn't have an answer for him," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

He said he was "extremely upset" at halftime because the Gators were playing as poorly as they did in losing to Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend.

Vanderbilt led 72-70 in overtime when Roberson hit a long 3-pointer to put the Gators up by one. Russell Lakey then drove inside to give the Commodores their last lead at 74-73.

Walsh worked inside and his soft one-hander fell with 18.7 seconds left to put the Gators back up.

Vanderbilt turned it over trying to work it to Freije on the other end. Walsh picked it up, was fouled and hit both free throws with 4.7 seconds left for the final points.

Przybyszewski got off a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have tied it, but his pressured attempt was off the mark.

The game was tied at 62 in regulation when Vanderbilt's Moore hit a 3-pointer that bounced high off the back rim before falling through, and Freije was fouled while positioning for the rebound. He hit 1-of-2 free throws to give the Commodores a 66-62 lead with 1:55 left. The foul was also the fifth for Bonner, leaving the Gators without their leader down the stretch.

Two free throws by Walsh cut Vanderbilt's lead to 66-64, then Roberson scored with 4.7 seconds left to tie it. Vanderbilt's Corey Smith got a good look at the buzzer but it rolled out.

"We were in deep trouble" when the 3-pointer went in and Bonner fouled out, Donovan said. "We were fortunate. Roberson's drive in regulation was as important as any play in the game."

Florida returns to action on Tuesday night when South Carolina comes to the O'Connell Center for a 7 p.m. tip in a match-up to be televised nationally on ESPN.


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