Vanderbilt vs Florida

Time: 03:30 P.M. EST
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A week ago, Florida beat Vanderbilt to clinch its first SEC regular-season title in four years.

Another win over the Commodores and the Gators get a shot at winning their first conference tournament in the same span.

The top-seeded and 12th-ranked Gators look for a third straight win over the Commodores this season when they meet in a semifinal Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

For the first time since going on to capture the second of back-to-back NCAA championships in 2007, Florida (25-6) won the SEC regular-season title. The Gators did so, 86-76 at then-No. 21 Vanderbilt last Saturday to close the regular season.

That victory was a crowning achievement for a program that has had to rebuild itself and return to the national spotlight it once owned with the likes of current NBA stars Joakim Noah and Al Horford in the mix.

The Gators won three consecutive SEC tournament championships from 2005-2007.

"We don't have three players going in the lottery this year, so it was a totally different team," coach Billy Donovan said. "This has been really, really as rewarding as any team I've had to coach because of where they've come from.

"They understand that the goal is to try to play on Sunday. And I think they understand what we're playing for."

Being within one game of playing for an SEC tournament title is another step in the Gators' progression. However, they are not about to look ahead, but would rather make the most of the moment.

"And any time you go win in this league in a tournament like this, it's always a good feeling, and to go to the semifinals, we're happy with that," said guard Erving Walker, who had a team-high 22 points in Friday's 85-74 quarterfinal win over Tennessee. "This is huge."

Led by Walker, all five Florida players tallied double figures as the Gators outscored Tennessee 56-40 in the second half and shot 58.7 percent for the game.

Guard Kenny Boynton, who had 22 points against the Volunteers, has averaged 16.8 in four career games versus Vanderbilt (23-9), which is in the semifinals for the second straight season.

After missing the Commodores' 62-50 first-round win over LSU with a sore foot, SEC scoring leader John Jenkins had 29 points in Friday's 87-81 victory over Mississippi State.

Jenkins (19.8 points per game) had 22 points in both meetings with Florida this season. He led all scorers in the teams' most recent contest, but could not help the Commodores win despite shooting 59.2 percent at home.

Getting a second chance at the Gators is something the sophomore guard and his teammates have been hoping would come this weekend.

"Florida proved that they were the best team in the SEC in the regular season," said backcourt mate Jeffery Taylor, who added 20 points Friday. "We definitely look forward to the opportunity to play them again and hopefully we can come out with a win."

This will be the teams' first tournament meeting since Florida beat Vanderbilt 91-69 in the 2004 semifinals.

The winner faces either No. 15 Kentucky or Alabama in the championship game Sunday.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Southeastern
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Texas A&M13-528-918
Kentucky13-527-911
S. Carolina11-725-965
LSU11-719-1494
Vanderbilt11-719-1463
Ole Miss10-820-1297
Georgia10-820-1462
Florida9-921-1555
Arkansas9-916-16133
Alabama8-1018-1573
Miss. State7-1114-17152
Tennessee6-1215-19145
Auburn5-1311-20175
Missouri3-1510-21223

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Key Players
John<br>Jenkins
John
Jenkins
G, VANDY
34.6 Min. Per Game 32.8 Erving<br>Walker
Erving
Walker
G, FL
19.8 Pts. Per Game 14.5
1.2 Ast. Per Game 3.4
3.1 Reb. Per Game 3.0
46.8 Field Goal % 41.4
41.4 Three Point % 37.5
89.0 Free Throw % 78.1
 
 
 
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