GAINSVILLE, Fla. – After starter Devin Robinson finished the first half with just two points and only six minutes on the court, UF coach Billy Donovan had a talk with the freshman.
“He was tough on me,” Robinson said. “He said a couple words that probably hurt my feelings, but I didn’t put my head down. I just went out there and took it as a challenge.”
Robinson responded to that challenge by slamming a two-handed dunk off a feed from Kasey Hill with 2.1 seconds remaining to give Florida a 50-47 win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.
Robinson finished the game with 12 points to go along with six rebounds.
“It was a good feed,” Robinson said. “He penetrated, got the big men in the air and I was just in the right spot at the right time.”
After Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) took a 19-12 lead with 8:37 left in the first half, Vanderbilt (14-12, 4-9) went on a 13-0 run to take a 25-19 advantage into halftime, with freshman Riley LaChance scoring six points off 2-of-2 shooting from beyond the arc. The Gators missed all 10 of their shots during that span.
“Even when we’re getting fairly decent looks, we’re not making shots,” Donovan said.
But after a slow second-half start, Florida found its flow.
Trailing 33-27 with 12:20 left to play, the Gators finished the game on a 13-0 run over 5:13 — highlighted by a Robinson dunk giving UF its first lead of the half — to pull ahead 40-33.
The Gators led down the stretch until Vanderbilt went on a 12-4 run to take a 47-46 lead with 43 seconds, but Robinson’s late dunk and a pair of Chris Chiozza free throws sealed Florida’s victory.
The win gave Donovan 499 in his career.
LaChance led the Commodores with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting — including a 3-for-7 mark from three-point range.
Sophomore center Damian Jones fouled out with 5:59 remaining.
“I’m not really sure we had one guy on our team play to what I would consider their capabilities,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “You don’t win at Florida if you don’t play to your capabilities.”
UF PLAYING WITHOUT STARTERS DOWN THE STRETCH
The Gators played without starters and leading scorers Michael Frazier II (ankle) and Dorian Finney-Smith (suspension; violation of team rules).
Donovan said Finney-Smith will not play in Saturday’s game against LSU, and the suspension will be revisited on Monday.
Finney-Smith is the fourth UF player to be suspended for any period of time this season.
Donovan also said he does not expect to have Frazier back until March.
Despite the absence of its leading scorers, Florida still managed to shoot 36 percent from the field.
Vanderbilt shot 20 percent from 3-point range, which tied for its second-lowest outing this season. . UF forward Alex Murphy scored a career-high-tying 11 points, while Chris Walker blocked a career-high five shots and Chiozza grabbed a career-high six rebounds.
Florida: The Gators used their 12th different starting lineup of the season on Wednesday and are 6-6 this season when debuting a new starting lineup. … The win snapped a four-game losing streak that started with Florida’s 67-61 loss to Vanderbilt on Feb. 3.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores are 0-6 this season in games decided by three points or less. … Vanderbilt is 3-2 in the month of February after starting conference play 1-7.
Florida: at LSU on Saturday.
Vanderbilt: hosts Missouri on Saturday.