Two-seed Florida Gators basketball (21-15) saw its season come to end with a whimper as an overall lackluster effort – especially compared to how it played in the first two games of the 2016 NIT – was not enough to overcome a tough team in the four-seed George Washington Colonials (25-10) on Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C.
After limiting mistakes and playing smart basketball for two contests, Florida reverted to many of the characteristics that held it back from earning a bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament in its season-ending loss to George Washington.
OnlyGators.com breaks down UF’s last game of 2015-16 with seven quick-hitters.
It was over when: George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh extended a one-point lead with a dagger three-pointer, pushing the hosts up 77-73 and allowing the Colonials to coast over the final 30-plus seconds to an 82-77 win.
Significant stretch: Down a game-high eight points, the Gators responded with an immediate 8-0 run, tying the game at 55 with 11 minutes to play. It was the best scoring stretch of the day for UF and one that looked to be a potential momentum shifter for the visitors.
First half focus: It was a seesaw battle between Florida and George Washington in the early going with the Colonials eventually taking a three-point advantage at the break. The Gators did not attempt a free throw for the first 15 minutes of the game and did a poor job rebounding the ball on both ends, giving the hosts numerous additional opportunities.
Strange effort at the line: Entering Wednesday night’s game, GW was one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the nation while UF has been one of the worst. Those roles flipped for much of the contest with Florida starting 12-for-12 from the line before missing two of its last four attempts and finishing 14-for-16. George Washington, meanwhile, finished 12-of-20 at the stripe but was at or below .500 for much of the game before making some late to ice its victory.
Rise and shine: Though freshman guard KeVaughn Allen has struggled a bit down the stretch, he was the best shooter Florida had on Wednesday, hitting 8-of-15 shots (just 2-of-7 from deep) and all four of his free throws for a team-high 22 points. The Gators seemingly forgot Allen was the hot hand of the evening as he did not appear to touch the ball over the final minute of the contest, a period of time in which UF missed most of its baskets save for a desperation three near the end of the game.
Everything else: Junior point guard Kasey Hill ended his streak of impressive outings by making just 5-of-17 shot, though he finished with 12 points, seven assists and two steals to two turnovers … in his final game at Florida, redshirt senior F Dorian Finney-Smith continued his incredibly inefficient play, going 3-for-9 from the floor with nine points and eight boards; he later fouled out of the contest … sophomore F Devin Robinson had one of his worst outings of the season, fouling out after 18 minutes while missing all five of his shots and committing two turnovers … freshman center Kevarrius Hayes gave great effort for the second straight outing, posting 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting with six boards … UF got outrebounded 39-35 by GW and allowed the Colonials to grab 15 offensive rebounds, most of which they converted into second-chance points … there were 14 ties and 20 lead changes in the contest … the Gators led with 3:42 to play … Florida went –of-24 from beyond the arc (.292) after faring much better over its prior two contests
What it means: Florida is now 3-2 all-time in NIT quarterfinal games, giving up a chance to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2008. The Gators end their season with 21 wins, which ties White for most by a first-year coach in school history dating back to Tommy Bartlett in 1966-67 (21-4). UF’s .583 winning percentage (21-15) is also third-best in school history behind Bartlett (.840) and Sam McCalister (.654) in 1946-47.