Gators, Commodores NCAA odds fight in Florida
By: Willie Bee
Monday, January 31, 2011
A pair of SEC rivals fighting to gain the respect of the polls square off in a key conference clash Tuesday night when the Florida Gators
host the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Gators enter the fracas 23rd in the latest rankings posted by the coaches. Florida is unranked by the AP, sitting just outside the top 25 in 27th. Vanderbilt is listed 23rd by the AP and tied for 24th with Illinois according to the coaches.
Vanderbilt (15-5 straight up, 8-7-1 against the spread) is coming off one its worst performances of the year, an 89-78 loss at home on Saturday to Arkansas. The Commodores were 13-point favorites at Memorial Gym where they suffered their first setback in front of the home fans of the season.
Kevin Stallings' squad had no answer for Razorbacks guard Rotnei Clarke who scored a season-best 36 points. Arkansas hit over 57 percent of its field goals, the highest mark Vandy has allowed this campaign. The 78 points by the 'Dores were right on their season average (78.8), 21st in the country, and they hit an amazing 25-of-26 tosses from the charity stripe. But Vanderbilt fell well off their glass work, pulling in 21 boards compared to a 39.0 average.
Vanderbilt came out flat, possibly due to the somber task of attending a funeral for guard Chris Meriwether's mother the day before the game.
The loss extended the woes of Vanderbilt backers after the team got off to a great start at the window covering seven of its first nine lined affairs. The Commodores are now 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven.
Florida (16-5 SU, 7-10 ATS) is also coming off an upset defeat, dropping a 71-64 decision as six-point chalk at Mississippi State last Saturday. The Gators simply couldn't find the net against the Bulldogs, hitting just under 40 percent from the field and canning only 5-of-21 from long range, both well below season averages. Billy Donovan's troops also struggled from the line, missing 10 of 19 free throws while Mississippi State was netting 19 of their 23 charity tosses.
It was a particularly long afternoon for Gators guard Kenny Boynton. The sophomore from Pompano Beach, second on the team in scoring at 13 per game, was able to sink just two of his 11 field goals and none from three-point land to end the day with just four points in 30 minutes.
Junior forward Lance Goulbourne is the only significant injury for either squad to report. The Commodores' leading rebounder (7.9) and fifth-leading scorer (8.3) is questionable with a bum ankle that limited him to 17 minutes and just three boards in the loss to the Hogs.
This is the first of two meetings on the regular season slate between the two schools with the second coming on the final Saturday of the season (March 5) in Nashville. Vandy won both battles last season, covering the odds as six-point chalk at home and as a three-point underdog in Gainesville. Game totals split, the 'under' cashing at O'Connell Center.
Florida holds a 38-21 all-time edge at home against Vanderbilt who owns the overall series advantage, 63-58.
ESPN will provide Tuesday's broadcast from Gainesville with the tip coming a few minutes past 6 p.m. (PT).
Vanderbilt moves back home for its next two contests, South Carolina this Saturday and Alabama next Thursday (Feb. 10). The Gators remain at O'Connell Center for this Saturday's battle with No. 10 Kentucky. That game will be part of the Don Best preview schedule and televised by ESPN (6p.m. PT).