The Fastbreak: No. 3 Gators topple Vols 67-58

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (22-2, 11-0 SEC) pulled away late in the second half on Tuesday evening to oust the Tennessee Volunteers (16-9, 6-5 SEC) on their home court and pick up a 67-58 win at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN.

The Gators won their 16th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 21st time in their last 22 contests. Florida has also started the season 11-0 in league play and put together the second-best start to a campaign in program history (24-2, 2006-07).

OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when… / Perfect play: Florida senior center Patric Young, chasing down an offensive rebound with his team holding a late six-point lead, laid his entire body out as he dove for the ball, snatching it away from two Tennessee players and tossing it to a teammate before sliding out of bounds. The effort resulted in two free throws for UF, which ultimately held on for the victory. Young only scored six points and eventually fouled out of the game, but five of his six boards came from the offensive glass.

“It was an incredible play, I thought, by him. He sold out,” explained head coach Billy Donovan after the game. “Two guys were in front of him; he ran past [them] and made an incredible save and helped us come with the loose basketball. Really it was an incredible play by him, effort-wise, in the game with four fouls.”

Prominent player: Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin struggled with his shot throughout the game (as well as his decision-making at times) but ultimately led Florida with a career-high 21 points. He made 10-of-12 free throws – going 5-for-6 over the final 51 seconds of the contest – and also contributed six assists and four steals.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.

Significant stretch: A 5:50 scoreless drought – the Gators committed three turnovers and went 0-for-6 from the field as the Volunteers cut their own deficit to two points – made it look like things would be over in due course for UF. However Florida, which also went 6:58 without a field goal, made up for its lack of offense as sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and Wilbekin drained back-to-back dagger threes to put the Gators up six points with two minutes to play.

“I used to say this with [Joakim] Noah and [Al] Horford: ‘It’s layups and dunks on the break and Lee Humphrey’. [Now] it’s kind of ‘layups and dunks and Michael Frazier.’ If he’s open, I let him shoot it,” said Donovan.

Perfect play II: Midway through the second half, freshman point guard Kasey Hill picked Jeronne Maymon’s pocket in the paint and drove went coast-to-coast, finishing with a reverse layup and trip to the charity stripe. He missed the ensuing free throw, but the overall play was the Gators’ second-most dynamic and exciting of the evening.

Struggling star: Senior forward Casey Prather, three days after many believed he had a resurgent performance after dealing with a nagging ankle injury, failed to live up to the star status he achieved at UF over the first 18 games of the season. Prather grabbed eight boards but finished 2-for-7 with nine points, the third time this season (all in the last four contests) he failed to reach double digits.

Standout stat: The Gators were not at their best shooting the ball on Tuesday, missing 37 shots in the game while going 21-for-58 from the field (.362). However, Florida was able to mitigate their inefficient field goal percentage by shooting at a high rate from the charity stripe. UF made 17-of-22 free throws (.773) and scored its last six points of the game at the line.

What it means: Florida fought off a strong effort from a motivated Tennessee team, sweeping its SEC East rival and earning another tough road victory. The fifth-straight league road win sets a program record for UF. The Gators also improved to 3-2 this season when trailing at halftime and 10-2 in single-digit decisions while earning a big win to start a five-game stretch in which they will play four road games.

Next up: A second-straight road game awaits UF on Saturday. Florida will travel to Lexington, KY to take on No. 13 Kentucky at 9:00 p.m. The game, which will air live on ESPN, is also being featured on the network’s College GameDay broadcast.

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16 Responses to “The Fastbreak: No. 3 Gators topple Vols 67-58”

  1. one says:

    Dear Lord, Patric Young’s offensive rebound. Wow, what a special team. The offense isn’t as pretty as the past few years but damn, these players fight and scrape for every win.

    ETA: Wow that’s embarrassing. Got two of the math questions wrong when submitting a comment lol. Guess that’s a good way to enforce sober commenting.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Not pretty, but one of the most efficient in the NCAA, I believe they are top 5 in efficiency. Free throws still the possible downfall, just like killed butler in the finals a couple of years ago against KU. close games, need FT even with great D and getting more FT than others. Could blow open games rather than nail biters or possible losers against the best teams

  2. Daniel M. says:

    Patric Young, you are a man! Great win, hard fought. When young had the diving rebound, I knew it was OVA!

  3. Timmy T says:

    Great road win boys! Pat with that play….wow is all that I can say. Wow. On to Kentucky! Go Gators!

  4. uf_84 says:

    This team is tough as nails. The senior leadership is really stepping up big time this year and Billy has done a masterful coaching job. We could just about wrap up the regular season SEC title if we could pull off a win in the UK madhouse this Saturday. Obviously a big game so hopefully we can kick a little Wildcat ass. Go Gators!!

  5. Ken (CA) says:

    what a great win, and I think it is so funny when they say “that was the shot of the game”, yea key shot opens lead, etc. but if hadn’t made all the others, shot woulda just been a shot.

    How awesome it would be to break the Billy Ball record and start 12-0 by winning at Rupp on Sat, where only 2 total losses since they changed coaches…

  6. Michael Jones says:

    Scottie started off like everybody’s All-american, but down the stretch, reverted to holding the ball when Frazier was standing unguarded at the 3 point line, and trying to take it 1-on-3, too often out of control. The good teams will defend that easily. Heck, UT defended it. He’s going to have to learn to trust his teammates.

    Wish we had gotten Devon Walker back in the game against the 1-3-1. He’s 1 more zone buster to compliment Frazier if Scottie will give up the ball WHEN THEY’RE OPEN.

    Patric Young. . unbelievable. Brought me out of the chair with that incredible last effort-rebound. If this team does something in the post-season, that play may go down as our signature moment. He and Yeguete are getting better every game. Both of them making those little 5-10 footers around the rim consistently is starting to remind me of . . dare I say it?

    Kasey did some nice things this game. Took a step forward. D. Walker too. D. Walker has scary potential, man, I’m telling you. Scary.

    I love our team. They keep winning character games. Tough kids. . great depth. Finney-Smith might be our best all-around player and he comes off the bench. Think about that. Wow. . the potential can make you giddy.

    • W says:

      You seem to be implying that UT is not a good defensive team or good team overall. They were rated #22 overall in KenPom ratings before the game and #58 in defense, though the 1-3-1 they ran was much better than that ranking would suggest.

      Scottie has some kinks to work out, but going for 21 pts, 6 assists, 5 boards, and 4 steals with zero turnovers against a tough team on the road probably should exempt him from most criticism.

      • John says:

        He was 29% from the floor and 17% from the 3PT line, and don’t forget that some of those 21 came at the end of the game where he got free points. I don’t think we win the game without Scottie because of his defense, but he was being selfish offensively and forcing bad shots no matter what the assist category may imply.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Scottie did some good things. He usually does. And we won the game. Great! But the mental part of his game is going to have to get better if we–AS A TEAM–are going to go from good to great. He is clearly the leader. He’s tendency to hold onto the ball and ignore open guys down the stretch is an offensive rhythm killer. It’s also easy to defend. Guys stop working to get open (because they don’t get the ball) and start standing around watching Scottie go 1-on-whatever.

        And 6 assists are no big deal for a point guard on a team as talented as this team is. If Scottie hits the open big man half of the time that they’re open down low, he’d be in double digit assists every game.

        You don’t dribble around in circles at the top of the key eating up shot clock against a zone. . everybody knows that. You move the ball around, make the defense work, hit the open guy, and eventually a good shot opens up.

        But Scottie does a lot of good things. He’s courageous, tenacious, relentless, unafraid of the moment. . . love Scottie. He just needs to play smarter and less selfishly.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          those who know, and have actually played the game consistently say that Wilbekin is by far the best point guard in the SEC. I think I will go by their analysis rather than yours.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          Those of us, which is everyone commenting here, who have never played the game on that level, should get it that those who have played it at that level and/or higher, know what they are talking about, and they all consistently say Scottie is by far the best point guard in the SEC.

          As an example of lack of knowledge, just watching games, they consistently say that everything Gators do, every player in the half court has a purpose, the cutting, the picks, etc. And they also consistently say most teams players just move around, most movement really serving no purpose. The reason this offense is so efficient is the same reason coach D offense always so efficient….they are always working with a purpose and a plan. When I watch them play it seems a bit of nothing going on offensively in half court, but I don’t have that court knowledge. When commentators who actually have played watch it, they always comment on how excellent UF ball movement, screening, and player movement is on offense. and how it all is set up.

          This is probably why Chris Walker has played so little. It takes a while to get up to speed as to what is going on, and why Billy keeps saying they have to simplify things while he is in until he gets all caught up.

          Maybe once you all have played the game at that level or higher your criticisms will matter, but until then, I will defer to those that have.

          • Michael Jones says:

            Never said that Scottie wasn’t good. But even the allegedly “best point guard in the SEC” has room for improvement. Or did you selectively forget that even Donovan himself has said that Scottie needs to learn how to “utilize his teammates?”

            I watch all the games and I’ve heard all of those comments too. We are moving without the ball much better this year. But I’ve also heard Knight and others criticize some of Scottie’s shot selections and inability or refusal to hit open teammates on time and in rhythm. But I don’t really want to run down Scottie to make my point or rebut yours. Just would love to see him become as good as he can be for both him and our team to fully realize our potential. Is that so terrible?

            It’s a comment board. That’s what you do on comment boards. . comment. We can always disagree with each other, no biggie. . but I always get a kick out of every time someone takes the position that our opinions and observations aren’t valid because only Hall of Fame or former SEC players or coaches have valid opinions. . . like those are the only people who know anything about the sport . . which ironically immediately disqualifies the opinion of the guy who is writing. It’s also funny when a commenter pretends to know anything about the personal life or the history of another commenter.

            Like I said before, love Scottie, love this team. . . GO GATORS!!!

    • chitown1123 says:

      Your are exactly right about Devon Walker potential being scary. He’s about 6’7-6’8 with a chance to grow. He has very long arms. He is extremely atheletic along with the fact he’s one of Florida’s best on ball defenders. The things that are holding him back are his physical strength and confidence. If he comes back next yr stronger than he ever been in his life. He has a chance to be a break out player just like Casey Prather with more ability. Michael FrazierII Kasey Hill and Chris Walker need to hit the weights big time along with their individual basketball skills improvement. Next yr starting lineup could look like this:

      Pg Kasey Hill
      Sg Michael FrazierII
      SF Devon Walker
      Pf Dorian Finney-Smith
      C Chris Walker/Damontre Harris

      This starting line up could be Billy Donovan most athletic team during his tenure at Florida.

  7. John says:

    Kasey Hill has the speed, the handles, the great vision and passing, all he needs is to add a floater and jump shot to make him impossible to beat and a dynamic player.

  8. Joshua says:

    I will take a conference road win any day! Tremendous effort down the stretch to pull this one out. The character of this team is among the best in the country. If I could maybe make one small criticism, though… We run one of the best zone defenses in the half court but act like we’ve never seen it when we’re on O. In previous games, we made a few adjustments, reversed the ball and created wide open perimeter shots. Against better teams in the tournament, we can’t afford to go without a bucket for 5-7 minutes at a time. We’ve got to figure out how to get inside and score around the rim. If you watch the replay, against the zone defense, look at the lack of movement off the ball. You can bet Billy D will get that point across. All in all, a great game and great win. GO GATORS!!!

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