February 28, 2012

Previewing Vanderbilt vs. Florida

Vanderbilt Commodores (20-9, 9-5 SEC) vs. Florida Gators (22-7, 10-4)

Where: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316), Nashville, Tenn.

When: Tuesday, 8 p.m. Central


Radio: Nashville: 97.1 FM

Rankings: Florida is ranked 13th in ESPN's poll and 16th in the AP's; VU receives votes in bothh

Warren Nolan RPI: Florida 18, VU 23

The line: VU by 3.5 (over-under of 141)

Sagarin prediction: Vanderbilt by 1

Pomeroy prediction: Vanderbilt 74, Florida 72 (VU with a 59 percent chance to win)

Series record: VU leads 63-60, but lost in Gainesville earlier this season

PlayerHt.Wt.Cl.PPGRPG Pos.PlayerHt.Wt.Cl.PPGRPG
Brad Tinsley6-3210Sr.8.92.7 PG Erving Walker5-8177Sr. 12.52.9
John Jenkins6-4215Jr.20.02.9 SG Kenny Boynton6-2189Sr.17.3 2.4
Jeffery Taylor6-7225Sr.17.36.0 SF Bradley Beal6-3207Fr.14.76.5
Lance Goulbourne6-8225Sr.8.96.9 PF Erik Murphy6-10230Jr.9.94.1
Festus Ezeli6-11255Sr.10.35.4 C Patrick Young6-9247So.10.36.4

About Florida

Coach Billy Donovan's run of success has been unparalleled by any other Southeastern Conference program since the 1998-99 season, and he's got the Gators poised to potentially go far in the postseason again with March on the horizon.

In that span, the Gators have been to the NCAA Tournament 11 of a possible 13 years, pausing only to re-load following Donovan's back-to-back national title squads of 2006 and 2007 -- and even then, those teams made the NIT. Last year, the Gators made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAAs before bowing out to Butler in overtime,

UF has a chance to sew up the two-seed in next week's SEC Tournament by beating Vanderbilt tonight, but if the Gators fail, they'll likely be playing for a three- or four-seed instead with the season finale at Kentucky looming.

But, there are some danger signs brewing in Gainesville lately. With key reserve Will Yeguete out for the season with a broken foot, UF lost on the road to a Georgia team by 14 - a Georgia team that's just 4-10 in the league.

Yeguette's absence in and of itself wouldn't be a big deal on some good teams. Yes, Yeguette was having a nice season, hitting 58 percent of his shots, scoring 4.4 points and pulling 6.3 rebounds in almost 22 points a game. ESPN's Jimmy Dykes also recently called him UF's best defender.

But just as big a problem is who replaces Yeguette. The Gators weren't a big team to begin with - forwards Erik Murphy and Patric Young stand 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-9 respectively - but the only two other players over 6-foot-3 who get playing time are sophomore Casey Prather and freshman Cody Larson, who are 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-9.


By "play," I mean, "see the floor on any kind of basis. Prather was counted on to be UF's next Corey Brewer, a swing-man who can defend and score, but he's averaging just 1.6 points (and shooting just 28 percent) on an 8.9-minute average.

Meanwhile, Larson has scored a grand total of 12 points in 113 minutes this season. None of those points have come in conference games.

So, you'll see Donovan running a four-guard offense part of Tuesday, for sure. The good news for UF is that he can put four on the floor as good as anyone's.

Start with senior Erving Walker and junior Kenny Boynton. The pair have been volume shooters throughout their careers who run hot-and-cold, but Boynton had improved his shooting percentage to 47 percent after two sub-40 seasons. He's hitting 44 percent from 3, and leads UF in scoring.

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