It took five extra minutes on Saturday afternoon, but the No. 10 Florida Gators (13-2, 2-0 SEC) fought back from a seven-point second-half deficit to force overtime and pull off an 84-82 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-4, 0-2 SEC) on the road at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR.
Florida snapped Arkansas’ 25-game home winning streak while pulling off its seventh-straight victory and 12th in the last 13 contests. OnlyGators.com breaks it all down:
It was over when: Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin drained two free throws with six seconds remaining, extending UF’s lead to five – just enough to ward off a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the Razorbacks that would have tied the game.
Perfect play: A missed free throw at the end of regulation gave Florida new life. His team trailing by two with 17.1 seconds remaining, Wilbekin dribbled out the clock before driving the lane and pulling up, draining a prayer that tied the game at 66 with 2.0 seconds left and sent the contest into overtime.
Prominent players: Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith put together the best game of his career on Saturday, hitting 7-of-14 shots for a career-high 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to boot. He also picked up three assists and three steals. The double-double was Finney-Smith’s second of the season and came at the most opportune time possible for UF. Wilbekin was also huge for the Gators, matching a career-high with 18 points while hitting 8-of-10 free throws on the afternoon. He scored Florida’s last six points – all at the line – on eight attempts.
Guard Rashad Madden did everything he could to help Arkansas win at home, going 9-for-16 (5-for-10 from three) for a game- and career-high 23 points with five boards.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
First half finale: Florida took its first lead of the game on Arkansas with 7:44 left in the first half but coughed up its advantage when the Razorbacks took off on a 7-0 run to go up 32-25. However, the Gators were able to answer with an 8-0 scoring stretch – including six-straight points from Finney-Smith – to regain their lead. UA made the last basket of the half and was up one heading into the break.
Significant stretch: UF opened overtime with a 5-0 run thanks to a mid-range jumper by senior center Patric Young and three-pointer by Wilbekin. Florida never gave up that lead, holding on for the big road victory. Young eventually fouled out with 10 points and eight rebounds; he did not score and only posted a single board in the first half.
Pristine possession: With 2:06 left in the game, Finney-Smith tied the ball up and forced a jump ball. The arrow pointed to the Gators, which took advantage by tying the game at 64 with a big three-pointer seconds later from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. He hit 4-of-8 threes and posted 15 points.
Standout stats: The teams combined to shoot 49 three-pointers on Saturday with the first five baskets of the game (and six of the first eight) all coming from beyond the arc. In the end, things were pretty even with Florida going 9-for-25 (.360) from three-point land and Arkansas hitting 10-of-24 (.417) from long distance.
UF did nothing but help its cause on Saturday with his free throw shooting. The Gators hit 25-of-34 free throws including 10-of-13 in overtime.
What it means: Though UA is a low-RPI team that is mediocre on the road, it is one of the best teams in the nation on its home court. Nevertheless, UF pulled off the victory despite entering the game shorthanded without its leading scorer (senior F Casey Prather) and getting dominated on the offensive glass in regulation.
Next up: Florida hosts long-time rival Georgia back in Gainesville, FL on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air nationally on ESPNU. The Gators swept the Bulldogs in two meetings last season and are 5-1 in the last six games between the teams.
No non-top-50 win will be as impressive as Florida winning at Arkansas without Casey Prather.
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) January 11, 2014