Vanderbilt couldn’t crack Florida’s pressure or slow down Bradley Beal in the second half.
That added up to a 73-65 road loss on Saturday for the 25th-ranked Commodores. Florida forced 17 turnovers, most coming off traps, and Beal scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime.
“We didn’t do a very good job of attacking their press and it was disruptive,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We did a poor job with our spacing and our ball handling and it caused problems.”
Vanderbilt (16-7, 5-3) dropped back-to-back games for just the second time this season. The Commodores fall into a four-way tie for third place in the SEC with Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, who had games later on Saturday.
Florida, ranked 12th, led by as many as nine in the first half but, behind 25 points and four 3-pointers from Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt regained the lead in the second half. A John Jenkins layup gave the Commodores a 49-46 lead with 12:26 left.
Then Beal took over. The freshman scored eight points during a 12-0 Florida run, which featured three Vanderbilt turnovers. Kenny Boynton, who had 18 points, hit two free throws to give the Gators a 58-49 lead with 9:04 to go.
Vanderbilt responded with seven straight points, capped by a Jenkins’ 3-pointer to pull within two. But Florida answered with a dunk by Patric Young, and after another Vanderbilt turnover, Erving Walker hit two free throws to build a six-point cushion. Florida was 16-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Jenkins, the SEC’s leading scorer, finished with 15 points and Festus Ezeli added 11. Lance Goulbourne had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Florida entered the game leading the country with 10.5 3-pointers a game. The Gators stayed on pace, making 11-of-24 from long range. Boynton had a team-high three. Florida has won four straight against Vanderbilt.