The No. 12 Florida Gators (11-2) started 2014 off with a hard-fought victory, taking down the Richmond Spiders (10-5) on Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida won 67-58 despite leading by just two points at halftime and trailing by as many as four in the second half.
The Gators improved to 5-2 this season in single-digit decisions and have now won both 23-straight contests and 24 consecutive non-conference games in the O’Dome.
OnlyGators.com breaks down UF’s 11th win with The Fastbreak.
It was over when: Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith drained a much-needed three-pointer that extended the Gators’ advantage to eight points with 3:31 left in the game. The triple was just his second basket of the contest as Finney-Smith finished with five points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Prominent player: Florida’s win on Saturday was very much a team effort, but senior center Patric Young was the most consistent player over 40 minutes, playing great post defense while scoring efficiently with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also hit 3-of-6 free throws (including an and-one conversion) and grabbed six rebounds on the afternoon.
Standout stat: UF’s three-point shooting left much to be desired early in the contest. The Gators started just 1-of-11 from downtown while the Spiders began the game 6-of-14 and held a four-point lead with 13 minutes remaining. Florida went 4-for-8 from deep to close out the contest, while Richmond drained 3-of-9 threes over the final 13 minutes.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Highlights: See below.
Significant stretch: Trailing by three with 6:49 to play, the Gators busted out a 16-2 run to take an 11-point lead with 1:28 remaining in the game. Senior forward Casey Prather scored five points off two spin move layups (plus a made free throw) during the stretch, and UF converted a pair of and-one opportunities as well. Prather left the court with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go along with seven boards, three assists and two steals.
Perfect play: With 11:45 remaining in the first half, freshman point guard Kasey Hill grabbed an offensive rebound and made a one-handed bounce pass to Young, who was standing on the block. Rather than go up for a shot, Young followed suit with a one-handed bounce pass into the paint to Prather, who finished with an easy layup. Hill and senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who struggled all afternoon, combined for just three dimes in the game. Wilbekin went 4-for-13 (0-for-5 from three) for 10 points, while Hill finished 1-for-5 with two points.
Strange scenario: Despite scoring almost all of their first-half points in the paint, Florida did not take a trip to the free throw line until there was 11:34 left in the contest. UF took 19 free throws from that point forward, netting just 10 of their chances. RU only took three attempts from the charity stripe on the afternoon.
What it means: The Gators concluded their non-conference slate on a five-game winning streak and have gone more than a month without suffering a defeat. UF also pulled off a come-from-behind victory due in large part to doubling RU up 44-22 on the boards (15-3 on the offensive glass).
Next up: Florida opens league play and conclude a three-game homestand in four days when it hosts South Carolina in the O’Dome on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.. The game will air live on Comcast Sports Southeast.