Sunday, January 25, 2009

Florida 94, Vanderbilt 69

So that's why Chandler Parsons has a scholarship.

Florida's tall, gangly white guy had the game of his life, scoring 27 points on 10 of 11 shooting, including seven of eight from behind the arc. Parsons' teammates joined him in the hot shooting, hitting 15 of 25 three pointers and shooting 57.4 percent overall.

The Gators played their best game of the season against a Vanderbilt team sadly inferior to the last two teams Kevin Stallings has piloted into the NCAA tournament. It's dangerous to draw too many conclusions from what happened today. UF is now 4-1 in the SEC, but the Commodores are pretty crummy, and besides, Florida started last year's SEC campaign 5-1 (including a blowout win over Vanderbilt) before losing eight of their last 11 games and missing the NCAA tournament. The Gators have a home game against the fairly execrable Georgia Bulldogs coming up, so a second straight 5-1 start is in the cards. Hopefully this year's team will handle success a bit better.

But that's future talk, and right now it's enough to recognize how impressive a game that was. Coming as it did after last week's disaster at South Carolina, this performance was a huge pick-me-up for a team in desperate need of one.

Parsons was the star, but everyone got into the act for Florida. Freshman mighty mouse Erving Walker scored 17, Nick Calathes scored 15 (though he didn't have a good game distributing the ball), the heretofore invisible Walter Hodge had 10, and even freshman Kenny Kadji chipped in eight points in just12 minutes of play. Kadji also added two rebounds and a blocked shot; he's UF's best chance to find an interior presence this season.

There's not much of a game narrative to recap. Vanderbilt jumped out to an early six-point lead, Florida went on a run and never let up. They went into the half leading by 19, thanks to some nifty offensive rebounding and a miracle three pointer by Calathes. Vandy never came close to making a run in the second half, and the Gators spent most of that time ping ponging between a 20 and a 30-point lead. They retreated into the bunker in the final three minutes and missed on a chance to score 100, which is mildly disappointing.

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