TAYLOR'S THOUGHTS: Gators, Dores & the Road

It should be no surprise that defending NCAA champion Florida clinched the Southeastern Conference regular-season title on Wednesday night. According to coach Billy Donovan, the Gators (25-3, 12-1 SEC) began the path toward a second consecutive league title after winning the NCAA title last year.

"It started in terms of a thought process after our game in Indianapolis last year," he said during the league's teleconference on Thursday.

"It's a continual challenge every day. Our guys going through what we had to this year, I couldn't imagine going through it with a better group of guys. You have to have a group of guys who understand."

Florida is the hottest team in the league and has won nine of its last 10 games. Vanderbilt has won seven in the same span.

Kentucky and Vanderbilt are tied for second in the East standings at 8-5. The Wildcats (19-8) and Commodores (18-9) square off at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Nashville.

"It's one of those games (that is) difficult," Kentucky associate head coach David Hobbs said. "Playing at Vanderbilt hasn't been a trip to the beach for anyone."

Hobbs is right. Vanderbilt is undefeated in league play at home (6-0) and owns wins over Florida and Tennessee on its own floor. Overall, the Commodores are 13-2 at home this season. Kentucky owns the same record at home (13-2), with both of those loses coming against league foes.

Home sweet home

All but one team in the conference owns a .500 record or better at home when playing within the league.

Florida (7-0), Vandy (6-0) and Tennessee (7-0) are perfect at home, while South Carolina hasn't fared as well with a 2-4 record against league foes in Columbia.

In addition, the Volunteers have won 15 of their 19 total games at Thompson-Boling Arena. Florida also is perfect at home (17-0).

While tough to beat at home, the Vols are 0-6 in the conference and 1-7 overall away from Knoxville.

Part of the reason behind Ole Miss' success this season has been because of the Rebels' ability to take care of business at home. Ole Miss is 14-1 overall at home and 6-1 in league play.

The downside in the west is the fact that no team has won more than two games on the road. Mississippi State has the best record away from home (2-4).

In terms of overall records, no team in the conference has a losing mark. South Carolina is 13-13 going into this weekend's games.


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