Both teams look to avoid losing two straight games for the first time this season when the No. 23 Commodores face the SEC East-leading Gators on Tuesday night.
Vanderbilt (15-5, 3-3) held its first five SEC opponents to 39.6 percent shooting before Arkansas shot 57.4 percent from the field to hand the Commodores their first home loss of the season, 89-78 on Saturday.
The Razorbacks’ effort marked only the second time this season a team shot better than 50.0 percent against the Commodores. Marquette shot 56.1 percent in its 77-76 loss at Vanderbilt on Dec. 29.
In addition to giving up its highest point total of the season, Vanderbilt was outrebounded 30-22.
“It was disappointing the lack of, I don’t even know what I want to call it, the lack of something,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
Stallings was not sure if his squad was looking ahead to Tuesday’s contest against a Florida team it’s trying to catch in the East.
“I hope not, but obviously I’m not enough inside their brains,” Stallings told the school’s official athletics website.
What Stallings does know is that the Commodores must regain their defensive intensity if they are to win a second straight in Gainesville. Vanderbilt held the Gators to 36.5 percent shooting from the field and 2 of 13 from 3-point range while snapping an eight-game skid at Florida with a 64-60 win March 2.
Florida (16-5, 5-2), however, went 30 of 60 from the field in a 75-43 rout of Arkansas in its last home game Jan. 22.
Like Stallings, Gators coach Billy Donovan knows his team is in for a major challenge while trying to bounce back from Saturday’s 71-64 loss at Mississippi State, which knocked the Gators out of the Top 25.
“(Vanderbilt) is a very, very good team. A complete team,” Donovan told the Gators’ official website. “It’s another quick turnaround for both.”
While the Commodores’ defense let them down against Arkansas, the Gators struggled at the offensive end Saturday by shooting 39.7 percent and going 9 of 19 from the free-throw line.
Florida’s free-throw percentage (65.3) is the second-lowest in the SEC.
“We need to continue to take reps,” Donovan said. “We need to continue to shoot. It’s something we’ve got to try to get better at.”
Donovan, however, likes the approach his squad takes when it comes to making improvements in any facet of the game.
“They are really, really good about going in there and doing what they need to do,” Donovan said. “They really try hard.”
Leading scorer Erving Walker (14.4 points per game) went 4 of 5 from the line and finished with 18 points Saturday.
Though the 5-foot-8 junior has averaged 15.3 points in four games versus Vanderbilt, he was held to five on 1-of-9 shooting in last March’s home loss to the Commodores.
Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins (19.1 ppg) scored 18 points in that contest. He’s averaged a league-high 21.8 in SEC play this season after scoring 24 against Arkansas.