Florida slips past Vanderbilt, 73-68

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The toughest game remaining on Vanderbilt regular season schedule proved to be just that. Corey Brewer put on an unlikely shooting performance for the Gators and scored a career-high 26 points to lead Florida past Vanderbilt 73-68 at Memorial Gym on Wednesday night.

"I would give us an 'A' for effort, but not an 'A' for performance, and certainly Florida affected that greatly," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who has now lost six straight to the Gators. "They're not the No. 7 team in the country for nothing."

Shan Foster had 19 points for the Dores and Julian Terell had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Gordon scored an SEC-high 12 and DeMarre Carroll scored 11. Derrick Byars, who was shut out in Gainesville, scored just six points in the rematch.

Brewer entered the contest just 4-for-22 from three in SEC play, but he hit his first five three-pointers of the game, the fifth coming on the opening possession of the second half while he was getting fouled. Brewer converted the four-point play, giving Florida a 35-27 lead.

"Brewer is shooting 18 percent in the league from three, and he hits four in the first half," Stallings said. "Sometimes you get caught like that. He had a great game."

The Gators (22-3, 8-3) maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the second half, then withstood a Vanderbilt charge down the stretch. Trailing 58-48, Vanderbilt battled its way back by scoring on five straight possessions, but it was only good enough to cut the lead to 66-60 thanks to some clutch Florida free throw shooting a a three-pointer by Lee Humprhies. With 1:19 to play, Foster cut the lead to 68-65 on a dunk and foul shot, but Brewer answered at the other end with a layup off an offensive rebound that proved to be the play of the game.

"When I saw the ball go up, I felt like it was going to come off and I ran full speed and it came right to me," said Brewer, who grew up in Portland, Tenn.

Vanderbilt trailed by four with 26 seconds left, but Gordon had a shot blocked, then missed a three-pointer, and the Dores were forced to face the reality of its seventh loss in 11 SEC games.

"We've been behind the 8-ball since we gave that game away to South Carolina," Stallings said.

Vanderbilt's final three road games are all against teams with losing SEC records (Georgia, South Carolia, Ole Miss), and there are two home dates with nationally ranked LSU and Tennessee. The Commodores realistically need four wins to put themselves in position to be considered for the NCAA Tournament heading into the SEC Tournament.

"Our record is totally different than how we are playing," Terrell said. "We just have to stay together and get ready for our last five games and the SEC Tournament."

Florida's Joakim Noah, center, drives around Vanderbilt's DeMarre Carroll, left, and Shan Foster, right. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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