The No. 2 seed Gators open Southeastern Conference Tournament action in Nashville at 7 p.m. against No. 7 seed Vanderbilt. Here’s a quick glance at the matchup
How they got here:
As a top-four seed, Florida (24-7) earned a coveted double-bye in the conference tournament. Vanderbilt (18-14) advanced to the quarterfinals following a 66-41 win over 10th-seeded Texas A&M on Thursday. Guard Joe Toye scored a team-high 18 points while Riley LaChance added 14.
Regular season matchups
Vanderbilt swept the Gators in the regular season, taking a 68-66 win in Gainesville on Jan. 21 and then closing out the regular season with a 73-71 win in Nashville. Overall, the Commodores have won four straight against the Gators dating back to last season and are the only conference team second-year UF coach Mike White has not recorded a win against.
Players to watch
KeVaughn Allen: While the sophomore shooting guard paces the team with a 13.9 points-per-game average and has made a team-best 67 3s, he has a tendency to be streaky and disappear late in games. Florida will need Allen to get hot early and stay hot in order to have a chance to snap its losing streak against Vanderbilt.
Kasey Hill: The lone four-year senior on Florida’s roster, Hill is the team’s de-facto leader on and off the court. The 6-1, 175-pound point guard is having a career year in scoring (9.6 points per game), rebounding (2.3 per game) and assists (4.6 per game). But since dishing out a career-best 12 assists against Auburn, Hill has recorded just 11 assists while turning the ball over 18 times in Florida’s past five games.
Canyon Barry: The SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year, Barry is averaging 12.5 points off the bench and has shown improved defensive prowess over the season.
Luke Kornet: Kornet can do it all. He’s third in the conference with 64 blocks. He’s second on Vanderbilt’s team with 13.5 points per game and is making 85.3 percent of his free throws. He can score in the paint. He can make jump shots. He can defend the glass and be a force in the post. In two games against Florida this year, Kornet has scored 35 points on 11-of-23 shooting while also corralling 10 rebounds and blocking three shots.
Riley LaChance: LaChance is the Commodore’s most dangerous offensive weapon from beyond the arc. Heading into Friday’s matchup, the junior has made a blistering 48.8 percent of his three-pointers.
The Gators are projected to be a No. 4 seed East Region by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and would play their first two games in Orlando. If the seedings hold, Florida would open against East Tennessee State and would play the winner of No. 5 Notre Dame and 12th-seeded UNC Wilmington in the second round.
Lunardi projects the Commodores to be an 11th seed also in the East Region. If the seedings hold, Vanderbilt would start by facing No. 6 seed Wisconsin. If the Commodores advance, they would face the winner of No. 3 seed Florida State and No. 14 seed Winthrop for a spot int eh Sweet 16.