No. 10/11 Florida Gators basketball (1-1), still short-handed due to suspensions, fell Tuesday night on the road with the No. 19/20 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) picking up a 59-53 victory at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. After the loss, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.
“I think this environment really helped our team. … It was a great, great environment. I thought it was a tremendous experience for our basketball team being the second game of the year playing against an opponent like this. I thought we really made some strides from our last game to this game. We’ve gotten better.
“I thought we had a really, really hard time finishing some plays in particular around the basket. We missed a lot of layups and finishes at the rim that I think hurt us. We really did not take an enormous amount of three-point shots in the game, but the plays that we had around the basket, we probably didn’t make enough plays offensively. … We dug ourselves a hole. We battled, fought back. I thought overall for us there’s a lot we can take from this.”
MIXED PERFORMANCE FROM STANDOUTS
No single Florida player had an all-around great game, according to Donovan. Even sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, who scored a career-high 20 points off the bench via an impressive shooting performance (7-for-11 from the field, 5-for-7 from three), deserved his fair share of criticism.
“He shot the ball well again. He’s really a great shooter. He’s one of the best shooters I’ve coached,” Donovan said. “But he has got a long way to go defensively. I think he had 20 tonight. I’ll have to go back and see how many he gave up.”
Freshman point guard Kasey Hill looked to be in a great mindset early in the contest but seemed to deteriorate as the game went on. Hill fouled out of the game with 3:25 left and only made 2-of-11 shot attempts on the evening. Wisconsin made a concerted effort to take the ball out of others’ hands and give Hill room to shoot, especially from long range.
“For Kasey, the one thing I felt in the game was he really struggled shooting the basketball. And he took 11 shots; he probably could have taken 21 shots with the way they were playing him. I give him credit for his patience offensively. But I thought his lack of putting the ball in the basket really, really impacted him on the defensive end of the floor being a young guy,” Donovan explained. “He was visibly, to me, [looked] disappointed, upset, bothered, and I think that led to some of his foul trouble. He’s got to be able to move to the next play as a young kid.
“Obviously I’ve put him in a very difficult situation. The fact that he’s a freshman and we don’t have another point guard right now on our team and he’s got to absorb a lot of minutes. He’s kind of having to learn on the job, and I’m not so sure that’s the fairest thing to him. So there’s going to be some growing pains and some bumps and bruises on the way.”
After only taking two shots and grabbing two boards in the season opener, Young took a bigger role in the game plan on Tuesday but fell well short of looking anywhere near his best. He made 2-of-6 baskets, hit 4-of-7 free throws – missing the front end of consecutive one-and-ones – and finished with just eight points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. He made great effort on a rebound very late in the game, which simply left most scratching their heads as to why he did not attack every opportunity the same way.
“I thought we did a better job finding him. I thought he had better looks today. … We got him the ball; he got to the free throw line. I know he didn’t… He ended up taking six shots in the game and he got to the free throw line quite a bit. He had the ball enough today in the game. He got it enough. We were much more balanced with him than maybe we were in the last game,” said Donovan.
NO MORAL VICTORIES
Donovan did not provide an update regarding the three suspended players – senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, redshirt junior C Damontre Harris and redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith – but there is a great chance at least two of the three are back for the Gators’ next game on Friday.
Still shorthanded, Florida went into an environment where Wisconsin dominates (182-18 over the last 12 seasons, 91-7 against non-conference opponents) and fought until the end. The players, however, refused to accept that UF pulled off a moral victory.
“Even without Scottie, Doe-Doe, Damontre, those three guys, we still let this game slip away. We still had an opportunity to come away with a win this game,” Young said. “Of course it would’ve helped having those guys, but I think the guys we lined up with were capable of coming away with a win tonight.”
Added Frazier: “The guys we had, we were fully capable of winning. We let it slip through our hands.”
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida and Wisconsin are now tied 2-2 in their all-time series.
» The Gators are 0-3 away from home against top 25-ranked opponents dating back to last season, 4-3 overall.
» Tuesday marked just Florida’s eighth loss (55-8) since the 2011-12 season when its defense held the opponent’s offense under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators are 0-7 in single-digit decisions dating back to last season.
» UF outscored UW in the paint (22-20), off turnovers (20-12) and on the break (8-4), but eight offensive rebounds resulted in eight second-chance points for the home team.
» Senior F Casey Prather scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting and five rebounds, but he also committed a five costly turnovers in a team-high 35 minutes.
» Senior F Will Yeguete made all three of his shots and both of his free throws, scoring eight points and grabbing four boards in just 25 minutes.
» Junior G Eli Carter (leg) remains hobbled and played just 10 minutes. He missed his lone shot (a three-point attempt) and picked up two fouls because he struggled to get in front of his player defensively.
» Junior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz matched UF’s biggest player, Young, with a team-high six rebounds. Kurtz made some mistakes in the 21 minutes he played, but his effort off the glass is the main reason why his team did not lose the rebound battle worse than it did (31-28).
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On how Florida played offensively: “I really liked this offense. I thought we played unselfish. I thought we moved the basketball. At times we didn’t have really an explosive offensive team on the floor. I thought we manufactured some points. I thought we got the ball where we wanted it to go. … I never felt like we got bogged down offensively that we couldn’t get good shots. I’m not so sure that we finished enough plays.”
» On how the Gators played defensively: “I thought we guarded them pretty well in the game. I thought we had some lapses where for a three or four minute stretch they really hurt us. But overall, dealing with some young guys like we did starting, I thought they hung in there for the most part.”
@ONLYGATORS TWEET OF THE GAME
Florida really needs Wilbekin back. No one can run the point with Hill on the bench. It's ugly.
— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) November 13, 2013