University of Florida

Vanderbilt upsets Florida Gators in SEC tournament quarterfinals

Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance (13) shoots against Florida guard Canyon Barry (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, March 10, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance (13) shoots against Florida guard Canyon Barry (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, March 10, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. AP

Kasey Hill took a pass from Devin Robinson in overtime, dribbled once and slipped.

Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson scooped up the ball and passed it to teammate Joe Toye, who then passed it to Nolan Cressler in the corner.

Cressler sank the three-pointer.

The No. 7 seed Commodores, playing about two miles from their home campus, cruised from there to upset No. 2 Florida 72-62 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals on Friday in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The loss marks Florida’s first SEC tournament exit without a win since the 2007-2008 season.

The Commodores (19-14) outscored the Gators 14-4 in the five-minute overtime period to advance to the tournament semifinals. Vanderbilt (19-14) will face either No. 3 seed Arkansas or No. 6 Ole Miss in the semifinals on Saturday, with the game expected to tip off around 4:30 p.m.

Florida (24-8), ranked No. 17 by The Associated Press and projected as a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament coming into the conference tournament, now has to wait until Sunday to find out its NCAA fate.

Second-year Florida coach Mike White knew a third bout with Vanderbilt wasn’t going to be easy.

Heading into the quarterfinal matchup, the Commodores were the lone SEC team White had yet to earn a win against in four tries. Three of the four contests were decided by two points or fewer.

After Vanderbilt won its second-round matchup against Texas A&M on Thursday, White walked off from his scouting seat and sighed.

“We’ll find a way,” White said.

The Commodores had other plans.

Vanderbilt players took turns making three-point shots in the first half against Florida’s defense

First Matthew Fisher-Davis. Then Payton Willis. Riley LaChance and Roberson joined in, too.

Florida did nothing to stop them.

In total, the Commodores sank six shots from beyond the arc in the first half and 11 in the game.

LaChance paced Vanderbilt with 18 points, including a wide-open three in the overtime period that essentially ended it. Luke Kornet added 12 points and 10 rebounds of his own for a double-double, while Roberson (16) and Fisher-Davis (11) also scored in double figures.

After falling behind early in both of its regular-season games against Vanderbilt, Florida found itself up six, with a key three-possession sequence fueling the quick start.

With about 12 minutes left in the first half, junior Devin Robinson took a feed from Chris Chiozza and soared for a dunk but was fouled in the air by Vanderbilt’s Djery Baptiste. He repositioned himself in the air and somehow made the layup.

One possession later, Chiozza lobbed a ball over a Vanderbilt player for a contested jumper.

One possession after that, Chiozza ripped the ball out of Commodores guard Cressler’s hands and lobbed it to Hill at midcourt, who was fouled and made both of his free throws to take a 17-11 lead.

And then, the Gators went cold. Florida made just four of its 15 shots from the field down the stretch in the half and was outscored 22-11 to go down 33-28 at halftime.

Florida tied the score at 42 early in the second half thanks mostly to a late barrage from sophomore shooting guard KeVaughn Allen.

The Commodores responded with a 9-3 run and brought their lead to as much as 57-49 before Florida ripped off a 9-1 run to close out regulation and force overtime, during which Vanderbilt waltzed its way to a victory.

Hill and Allen scored 16 points apiece for Florida, which shot 34.4 percent from the field and made just six three-point baskets.

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