No. 13/15 Florida Gators basketball (6-1) won a hard-fought back-and-forth contest on Friday by defeating the Florida State Seminoles (5-2) for the fifth-straight year. Florida triumphed over its in-state rival 67-66 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL for its best and most highly-contested victory on the young season.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ win with The Fastbreak.
It was over when: With the game tied at 66 and 22.4 seconds left to play, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin dribbled out most of the clock but eventually missed a mid-range jumper. However, redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith grabbed the rebound and was fouled in the post, sending him to the line. He missed his first free throw but swished the second with 1.3 remaining, giving Florida a 67-66 lead. Florida State got a legitimate shot at the end but was unable to knock it down as Ian Miller’s buzzer-beater attempt clanged off the back of the rim with no time remaining.
Prominent player: Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was the Gators’ only truly consistent scorer on a night where points were hard to come by for most of the game. Frazier registered 17 points by draining 5-of-8 threes, including a couple late in the second half, and also came up with a nice block late in the contest.
Significant stretches: Down eight with 3:04 left in the game, FSU scored six-straight points to cut UF’s lead to two. The Gators were up by a game-high nine points late in the second half, but the Seminoles mounted a valiant comeback and even tied the game with 28.3 seconds to play after Miller made a pair of free throws.
Perfect play: Wilbekin had a nice drive to the hoop in the first half that nearly took this spot, but an assist he made near the end of the game ripped it away. With 3:48 remaining in the contest and the Gators only up by five, Wilbekin found senior F Casey Prather cutting to the hoop for a booming alley-oop dunk. How perfect was the play? ESPN reserved it a slot on Friday night’s Top 10 before the game was over. Prather left the court with a game-high 19 points and even hit 7-of-9 tries from the charity stripe.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Standout stat: Florida State hit 12 consecutive free throws as it fought tooth and nail to knot up the score with Florida. The Gators, on the other hand, went 3-for-6 during that stretch, giving the visitors ample opportunity to close the gap. Finney-Smith, who was 2-for-12 from the field and only scored six points but did grab a game-high 10 boards, made one when it counted the most, however.
Memorable moment: Senior center Patric Young brought the Rowdy Reptiles to their feet with less than a minute left in the first half. After being stuffed by Boris Bojanovsky on a dunk attempt, Young instantly got angered by the embarrassment and went back up even stronger for a monster two-handed jam. It was two of his four points.
What it means: The Gators won a single-digit decision for the second time in 11 tries dating back to March 10, 2012. It was UF’s first win in a game decided by five points or less since March 9, 2012. Florida also extended its winning streak over Florida State to five games and has now won 20-straight games in the O’Dome as well as 21-in-a-row at home against non-conference opponents. The hard-fought victory was a great test for UF heading into an extremely tough text over the next three weeks.
Next up: Florida will play its first of three-straight ranked opponents on Monday when it hits the road for a game against No. 13 UConn. The Gators are 0-1 against ranked teams this season and 0-4 in the last two campaigns when squaring off against a top-25 team away from their home court. The two programs have not met since 1994.