Florida routs Vandy to clinch SEC title
by David Jones, USA TODAY Sports
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida claimed its fourth outright SEC title, the third under Billy Donovan, with a 66-40 win against Vanderbilt on senior night Wednesday night.
The Gators (24-5, 14-3) claimed their second SEC crown in the last three years and the No. 1 seed in next week’s league tournament in Nashville. They will face the winner of the eighth vs. ninth seeds game in the quarterfinals next Friday. Florida closes out its regular season at noon Saturday at Kentucky.
Gator players stayed on the court afterward to cut down the nets as about a third of the fans stayed to watch.
Florida finished the season with a perfect home record (15-0) for just the second time in Donovan’s 17 seasons in Gainesville.
While guards Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton, along with forward Erik Murphy, celebrated senior night, it was junior Patric Young — also quite possibly leaving the program as an NBA draft pick — who led the Gators in the first half with 10 points against a young Vanderbilt team (13-16, 7-10) that started just one upperclassman.
Young had the first basket of the game and Florida led the rest of the way. Rosario hit a three-pointer and a bucket in the lane to make it 7-2.
Two more Young baskets led a 10-2 run that made it 17-6 at 7:55.
The Gators led 24-14 at halftime as the Commodores, who had a three-game winning streak end, shot just 22.7% from the field (including 1-of-10 behind the arc). Sixteen of Florida’s first half points came in the paint.
In the second half, the Commodores kept things interesting — even keeping the deficit below double digits until the senior class took over.
Boynton, who finished with 15 points, hit a three-pointer to make it 43-30. Murphy, who had just two points in the first half, but finished with 10, got a basket in the lane. Then a technical foul on Vandy’s Sheldon Jeter with 9:39 to play seemed to spell the end of any upset hopes.
Boynton hit the two foul shots to make it 47-32. Casey Prather scored in the lane, Boynton hit two more foul shots, Young, … [For more on No. 9 Florida routs Vandy to clinch SEC regular season title, click here.]