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Florida defense suffocates Vanderbilt for third straight win

The Gators hold the Commodores to 14 points in the second half to even their SEC record to 3-3.
Tyree Appleby, shown here during a game earlier this season, leads Florida with 11 points Saturday in a win over Vanderbilt.
Tyree Appleby, shown here during a game earlier this season, leads Florida with 11 points Saturday in a win over Vanderbilt. [ SCOTT AUDETTE | AP ]
Published Jan. 22|Updated Jan. 22

GAINESVILLE — Backup guard Tyree Appleby was the game’s only double-digit scorer with 11 points and Florida owned the second half in a 61-42 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Gators won their second straight without All-SEC center Colin Castleton, who suffered what has been called a “significant” shoulder injury in practice on Tuesday. He is the team’s leading scorer (15.4 points per game) and rebounder (9.1 rpg).

After leading 31-28 at halftime, the Gators scored the first 12 points of the second half, and the Commodores never recovered. Vanderbilt scored just 14 points after halftime, shooting 13.6 percent (3-for-22) and missing all nine of their 3-pointers. It made just 8 of 15 free throws in the second half.

Appleby made 3 of 9 3-pointers for Florida (12-6, 3-3 SEC), which won its third straight game. Jason Jitobah had eight points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon McKissic added nine points and four assists for the Gators.

SEC leading scorer Scotty Pippen Jr. (18.8 points per game) missed all seven of his shots of the second half for Vandy, was 1-of-10 overall and scored six points. He had three fouls and played just 21 minutes.

Trey Thomas and Jordan Wright led the Commodores (10-8, 2-4) with seven points each.

Vanderbilt shot 29 percent overall, made 4 of 23 3-pointers and was 12-of-23 from the free-throw line.

Florida shot 38 percent, made 9 of 36 3-pointers and was 6-of-13 from the line.

Both teams are on the road for their next game. Florida plays at Mississippi on Monday, and Vanderbilt faces South Carolina on Wednesday.

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