Payback will be on Vanderbilt’s mind when Florida comes to town Saturday.
It will especially be on the mind of Commodores center A.J. Ogilvy.
The Gators pounded VU 86-64 on Jan. 27 in Gainesville, Fla., sprinting to a 34-6 lead and toying with the Commodores the rest of the day.
Ogilvy, battling the flu, made only two of eight shots and scored nine points, the fewest of his brief Vanderbilt career. By game’s end, he sat on the bench with a dazed look on his face.
When the 24th-ranked Commodores and Gators meet in Saturday’s rematch at Memorial Gym, last month’s game will be fresh on Ogilvy’s mind.
“After the Florida game, I was sitting there looking a little empty, and one of their players made some comments about that,” he said. “So it will be interesting to see how we go against them.”
What sort of comments?
“It was something along the lines of, ‘It’s encouraging to see the other team’s big man with his head in a towel,’ or something like that,” Ogilvy said. “We’ll see.”
Ogilvy isn’t the only Vanderbilt player who is eagerly awaiting Saturday’s opportunity for redemption.
“We lost to them pretty bad down there,” guard Jermaine Beal said. “Everybody still knows that.”
A motivated and healthy Ogilvy is vital to VU’s hopes.
After struggling through the flu and sub-par play, Ogilvy bounced back Tuesday with 19 points and 12 rebounds against Kentucky in Vanderbilt’s 93-52 win.
It was Ogilvy’s third double-double of the season and seemed to signify his return to the form that made him one of the nation’s top freshmen in December.
“I hate to make excuses, but I was very sick,” Ogilvy said. “I’m back to where I should be and back to playing how I know I can. I felt like I let my brothers down. I’m trying to make up for all those games I let everyone down.”
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings estimates Ogilvy played less than full strength for about two weeks while fighting the flu.
“That’s a long time to have something viral knock you around a little bit,” Stallings said. “But he tried to play through it, which you have to admire him for. The players know he’s a competitor and plays hard. He’s never going to take the easy way out.”
And now, with another shot at Florida sitting before him, Ogilvy has a prime chance to make another statement.
“I would think he played poorly enough [on Jan. 27] that he will want to atone for that outing,” Stallings said. “He knows he didn’t play well.”
GOLD NUGGETS: Florida has won 13 of the past 15 meetings against Vanderbilt, including four of six in Nashville. …Stallings is 4-14 against Florida and 3-5 at Memorial Gym. …Vanderbilt has a combined total of only 25 turnovers in its past three games. …Florida freshman guard Nick Calathes is averaging an SEC-leading 6.1 assists per game and leads the Gators in league play in scoring [16.3] and rebounding [5.7]. …Fans entering Memorial Gym on Saturday are encouraged to donate to a Tennessee tornado relief fund to assist victims of last week’s storms.