And when the dust settled and the noise finally subsided, Vanderbilt found itself 2-2 in the SEC after what coach Kevin Stallings called the toughest schedule of any team in the league.
During the week, Florida coach Billy Donovan said he expected to get Vanderbilt's best game of the season, and that is exactly what he got. Leading scorer Matt Freije bounced back from his much-discussed slump with 23 points. Mario Moore shot lights out in the second half and tallied 21 for the game.
But the player that had the most to do with sparking the Commodores to an electrifying second half was Corey Smith, who has been Missing In Action for the better part of a month save for a half against Auburn. Smith finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists on a night where he took inspiration from an intentional foul from Florida star Matt Walsh.
With 17:32 remaining in the second half and the Gators leading 35-33, Smith was hammered from behind on a lay-up by Walsh. Smith was restrained by VU assistant coach Tom Richardson from going after Walsh, who did not help Smith up after the fall.
"It is etiquette that when you foul someone that hard, you help them up," Smith said. "When he walked off, I took that personally."
Smith had 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist prior to the foul. Then he took over, nailing two threes, grabbing boards and handing out some did-I-just-see-that? assists that firmly put Vanderbilt in control.
"For about 10 minutes, it was the Corey Smith show," Freije said.
Stallings added, "He's not the right guy to pick a fight with."
The key run for Vanderbilt was a 17-4 stretch that gave the Dores a 57-47 lead with 10 minutes to play. At one point, Vanderbilt had five lay-ups on five consecutive possessions.
The play of the night came when Moore (left) drove, dished to Smith who spun and handed a no-look pass that led to a Julian Terrell dunk.
A few minutes later, Moore made sure the lead would stand up, scoring nine straight Vanderbilt points on three threes. The lead reached 19 on three occasions down the stretch, giving the Commodore crowd a chance to focus its attention on Walsh, its newest Memorial enemy. With Moore's help, Vanderbilt made 7-of-9 threes in the second half.
"When you are coming off two losses in a row, you start to doubt yourself," Stallings said. "This kind of performance is just huge. I couldn't be prouder of the team or prouder of our crowd."
Stallings had had a private chat with Freije Thursday to shake him out of his funk. "I made Matt spend the day with me on Thursday," Stallings said. "I required him to be in my presence for a few hours. I knew if he didn't get it going, that our behinds were in trouble.
"Sometimes he just needs to have the air cleared. He played very well tonight."
"It worked," Freije said. "Maybe I should be spending a lot more time with him."
So the Commodores emerged from Week Two of the SEC wars with a much-needed split against Tennessee and Florida. A week of rest is next before a road date at Arkansas next Saturday.
"A week off is good only after a win," Stallings said.
And what a win it was.
Bill Trocchi is the online editor at Athlon Sports.