Florida Gators basketball (7-6) once again collapsed in the second half despite holding a double-digit lead, falling 63-59 to the UConn Huskies (7-5) on Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.
Without a single signature non-conference win, the Gators are suddenly in serious danger of missing the 2015 NCAA Tournament as they enter Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday in need of a major turnaround.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with seven quick-hitters:
It was over when: Trailing 57-56 with 39 seconds remaining, Florida redshirt sophomore forward Alex Murphy missed back-to-back free throws, and UConn extended its advantage with two free throws by guard Ryan Boatright. On the ensuing possession, Gators sophomore center Chris Walker went to the charity stripe to cut his team’s deficit but missed both of his attempts as well with the Huskies holding on from there.
Significant stretch: Florida opened the second half on a 7-0 run, extending its lead to a game-high 13 points. It would not last long, however, as UConn outscored its hosts 23-9 over an extended stretch, using a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 54-53 with 5:36 to play. UF led for 31:59 in the contest but never re-took the lead once it slipped away.
Prominent players: Boatright started slow, going scoreless for the first 13:51 of the contest, and was inefficient from the field hitting just 2-of-11 shots. However, both of those made baskets were triples, and Boatright hit 8-of-9 free throws for 14 points while dishing a team-high six assists for the Huskies. Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith was the Gators’ only double-digit scorer, posting a game-high 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting (4-for-8 from three, 5-for-8 from the free throw line).
Perfect plays: UConn G Rodney Purvis was as clutch as could be, making two big-time threes in the closing minutes of the game. Purvis pulled up and drained a shot with 5:36 remaining to give the Huskies their first lead of the contest at 54-53 and broke a 54-all tie two minutes later with another triple that put UConn ahead for good at 57-54.
Standout stats: Florida shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, holding a 37-31 lead at the break with nearly half of the Gators’ points coming from beyond the arc. UF also made 6-of-12 free throws at the start of the contest. In the final 20 minutes, the Gators made just 32 percent of their shots and 2-of-8 attempts from the charity stripe, missing four-straight free throws to end the game.
What it means: Florida fell to 7-6 on the season without a single prominent non-conference victory. UF has dropped games to Miami (69-67), Georgetown (66-65, OT), North Carolina (75-64), Kansas (71-65), Florida State (65-63) and UConn, falling flat in the second half in many of those contests, including a few in which it had double-digit leads.
Next up: The Gators’ hopes of reaching the 2015 NCAA Tournament are already hanging by a thread as Florida enters SEC play on Wednesday evening at South Carolina. UF is also in danger of failing to reach 20 wins in a season, a rarity for a Billy Donovan-coached team.