Florida is one win away from clinching its fourth outright SEC championship and second in three years.
The Gators can claim the top seed in the conference tournament with a victory in either of their last two games, but they'd certainly prefer to take care of business sooner than later.
Their first chance comes Wednesday night when they go for their 11th win in 12 home meetings with Vanderbilt.
The No. 11 Gators (23-5, 13-3) own a two-game edge over Kentucky and Alabama. Though on the brink of another league title and a likely high seed in the NCAA tournament, they haven't been at their best lately.
Florida has split its last four games and needed a late rally for a 64-52 win over the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Ball movement, rebounding and the team's health all appear to be concerns at the moment.
"We've deviated from who we are and we've got to get back to that," coach Billy Donovan said.
The Gators averaged 16.3 assists in their first 24 games but have recorded 10.5 per game in the last four. Donovan sees a direct link between that and his team's 3-point shooting slump, as Florida has hit 27.9 percent from beyond the arc in the last four contests after making 39.5 percent in the first 24.
Donovan, though, said it's more a matter of players moving without the ball as opposed to those with the ball needing to do a better job of finding their teammates.
"If a guy drives the ball and gets to the center of the paint, he's done his job," Donovan said. "It's the other four guys' responsibility to get open. There's no question that our 3-point shooting is correlated to us moving better on the perimeter and giving our guards outlets for better looks where we can make shots."
Florida has also been outrebounded by 5.8 over the last four after outrebounding opponents by an average of 7.1 before that.
Injuries to Will Yeguete and Michael Frazier II - who collectively average 9.4 boards - haven't helped and both were limited against Alabama, playing a combined 17 minutes with no points and one rebound.
"I couldn't get anything out of Frazier at all," Donovan said. "And Yeguete tells me after the game that he was absolutely petrified going out there."
Despite its poor record, Florida probably shouldn't overlook Vanderbilt (13-15, 7-9), winner of four of five and three in a row. The three victories, however, came against teams that are a combined 14 games under .500.
"Some of it's been better play, some of it has been location and opponents," coach Kevin Stallings said. "Hopefully most of it is that we're playing better."
The Commodores' recent surge has been keyed by freshman guard Kevin Bright, who's averaged 13.3 points over his last three contests while hitting 12 of 18 3-point shots. Bright averaged 6.2 points in his first 25 games while hitting 39.8 percent of his 3-pointers.
While Florida has struggled with its perimeter shooting, Vanderbilt has knocked down 10 or more 3s in three of its last four games.
The Commodores were 12 of 24 from 3-point range in the last meeting, a 77-67 home win Feb. 28, 2012 that broke a four-game losing streak in the series. Florida has won the last two home matchups, though those victories came by a combined 12 points - one of them going to overtime. Each of the last four games in Gainesville have been decided by single digits.
The Associated Press News Service
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