Koulechov scores 22, Florida beats Vandy 81-74 in SEC opener

By Associated Press,
Last Updated: Saturday, December 30, 2017

Egor Koulechov scored 22 points, Chris Chiozza added 17 and Florida opened Southeastern Conference play with a 81-74 victory against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Gators (9-4) led the entire game and ended a five-game losing streak in the series. It was coach Mike White's first victory against the Commodores (5-8), giving him a win against every team in the league in three seasons.

This one was a one-sided affair early and a nail-biter late.

Florida scored the first nine points of the game and was up 40-20 at halftime. But Vanderbilt clawed its way back into the game thanks partly to 12 3-pointers and made it close down the stretch.

Riley LaChance's 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining cut it to 74-70. But the Commodores missed their next two shots from behind the arc. The Gators closed it out from the free-throw line, where they made 27 of 30.

Koulechov was 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. Chiozza made both of his, and KeVaughn Allen was 6-for-6.

Equally important for Florida: The team had a season-low five turnovers. 

Allen chipped in 16 points for the Gators, who have won three in a row. 

Jeff Roberson led Vandy with 18 points and seven rebounds. Matthew Fisher-Davis (17), Saben Lee (13) and LaChance (11) also scored in double figures.


Vanderbilt: The Commodores' lack of inside presence was obvious again and could make for a long SEC season. Vandy has to make 3s to counter the imbalance and hit 12 of 31 from behind the arc against Florida.

Florida: The Gators found some offensive success for the first time in weeks and did a much better job of driving to the lane and getting to the free-throw line.


Vanderbilt: Hosts Alabama on Tuesday night.

Florida: Plays at Texas A&M on Tuesday night.