GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida sophomore David Lee focused on
defense. The effort paid off at both ends of the floor.
Lee scored a career-high 22 points and had 10 rebounds as the fifth-ranked Gators extended their winning streak to 12 games with an 87-75 victory over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.The Gators (16-2, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) are off to the best start in school history."He brings a different element I don't think that we've had,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said of Lee. "Just his ability, one, to block shots and to rebound. I think he's the best rebounder I've coached since I've been here. He does a lot of different things that really pose problems for other people's centers.''Lee held Vanderbilt's Brian Thornton, who entered averaging 13.5 points, to four points. "In this game, I concentrated with Thronton being a bigger
guy,'' Lee said. "To try and wear him out on the defensive end by
running each time. Even if I didn't get the ball, just trying to
run the floor and make him run back on defense.''Anthony Roberson added 20 points for Florida, which won its 14th straight home game, the second longest streak under Donovan.Matt Freije had 21 points for Vanderbilt (8-8, 1-4), which has lost five of six against ranked opponents this season. The lone victory was a 70-69 win over then-No. 4 Alabama on Jan. 11."The story of the game was our lack of ability to defend them,'' Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "They executed great. Had a lot of assists. In addition to being a very good shooting team, they're an excellent passing team. That really stood out tonight.''Florida had 23 assists.A basket down low by Lee and Brett Nelson's 3 gave Florida a
56-40 lead with 18:35 left. Roberson's third 3-pointer of the
second half gave Florida a 70-50 lead at the 13-minute mark. Vanderbilt got within 78-67 on a 3 and two free throws by Freije
with 3:49 remaining. Russell Lakey hit a jumper and added a free
throw to cut the deficit to 78-70 with 2:40 left.Roberson had two layups and Lee added a dunk during the final minute of play."Our team played very hard, and at times played very well,'' Stallings said. "But it was obvious they were just better than us.''Lee had 15 points as Florida took a 51-40 halftime lead. He scored five points, including a three-point play, during a 9-0 run to put Florida ahead 39-28 with four minutes left in the half.The Gators extended the lead to 49-35 on Roberson's 3-pointer with a minute left in the half.Vanderbilt's Jason Holwerda had 13 of his 17 points in the first half. His career high entering the game was 12, set Nov. 22, against Southeastern Louisiana.