Sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson finished with 20 points and seven rebounds and Noah Locke added 17 points to help Florida snap a three-game losing streak with a 61-55 victory over Vanderbilt in an SEC matchup in Nashville on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt shot 37.8 percent (17-for-45) and committed 17 turnovers to extend its conference record losing streak to 26 games.
The Commodores (8-13, 0-8) struggled at the start of both halves to drop their ninth straight game. Scotty Pippen Jr. tallied 15 points and five rebounds, and Saben Lee chipped in 11 points for Vanderbilt.
“I just tried to do my job, and my team wanted me to play with more motor,” Johnson said. “We learned from our losses, and this game we wanted to make a statement with our defense.”
The Gators (13-8, 5-3) avoided an upset by relying on an 11-2 run to open the second half to seize a 37-23 lead following a 3-pointer by Locke.
Pippen scored four straight points in a 6-0 run to help lower the gap to 39-31, but Tre Mann’s 3-pointer sparked a 10-0 run by the Gators. Locke highlighted the scoring spree with two 3-pointers to help build the lead back up to 49-31.
Vanderbilt responded with an 18-6 surge to get back into the game. Maxwell Evans canned a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 55-49 with 2:50 left, but Locke’s 3-pointer rimmed in to extend the advantage to 58-49.
Lee scored on a layup off the left side to cut the deficit to 58-53 with 25 seconds left left, but Locke secured the win by hitting two free throws with 15 seconds left.
The Gators opened the game aiming for a blowout victory, leading 10-3 on a layup by Kerry Blackshear Jr. with 14:38 left. The Commodores and Gators both fell into a shooting slump, combining for 20 points in the first 11:11 of the game.
The Gators took advantage of 10 turnovers by the Commodores to take a 26-21 lead at halftime.
—Field Level Media