Florida Gators defeat Vanderbilt, will play Kentucky for SEC tournament title
Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker combined for 41 points, and Chandler Parsons added 16 and nine rebounds to help lead Florida to a 77-66 victory over Vanderbilt in Saturday's SEC tournament semifinals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Gators (26-6) will play Kentucky (24-8) Sunday at 1 p.m. for the SEC tournament championship.
Walker had a stretch of nine straight points midway through the second half, and Boynton scored 10 consecutive in another stretch. Boynton had a game-high 24 and Walker added 17 in Florida’s second straight come-from-behind victory.
“In the second half we have been down the last two games, so it was square in our face that we had to come out with a lot better intensity and defend,’’ Walker said. “In the first half we got a bad habit of waiting to see how hard we got to play and we’ve got to get out of that.’’
Florida’s bench - including Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete - outscored Vanderbilt 13-0. Freshman center Patric Young had a career-high eight rebounds off the bench.
Florida has now defeated two SEC teams three times in one season for the first time in school history. The Gators defeated Tennessee for the third time in Friday night’s quarterfinal.
“That’s special,’’ senior forward Chandler Parsons said. “It shows how many different options we have. It definitely is a big boost for us. That’s just us following scouting very well and playing hard.’’
Kentucky will be playing for its 28th SEC tournament championship; the Gators will be playing for their fourth.
“I think it will be a really good game, and I don't know who I would necessarily give the advantage to, but I think it could be a very close game and should be a very good game, too,’’ said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who has faced both. “Two very high quality teams. And obviously Kentucky doesn't have to play on the road, it will be like a home game for them, so that may give them a little bit of an advantage because they have been really good at home all year, not much on the road. I think it will be a great game. It will be very well-representative of our league and two of the best, if not the two best teams, in our league.’’