The No. 12/14 UConn Huskies (8-0) remained undefeated by taking down the No. 15/12 Florida Gators (6-2) in a heart-stopping, nail-biting, buzzer-beating finish on Monday evening at the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ 65-64 loss with The Fastbreak.
It was over when: UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, who scored 26 of his team’s 65 points, missed a jumper with two seconds left but got his own rebound off a deflection and drained a 15-footer at the buzzer to send the Huskies to victory.
Prominent players: Napier scored a game-high 26 points including six in the final 34 seconds. He tied the game with a three-pointer but was fouled by Florida redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith and hit the ensuing free throw to put his team ahead by one. The Gators re-took the lead on a layup by sophomore guard Michael Fraizer II, but Napier stood poised and won the game for his team a few seconds later. He hit 5-of-8 threes on the evening and all three of his free throws while filling out the box score with four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
For Florida, senior center Patric Young came through in the clutch by scoring seven-straight points late in the second half to push the Gators ahead 62-59 with 1:18 remaining. He dominated the end of the game and finished 6-of-10 from the field and 5-of-7 from the line with a team-high seven boards
Important injury: Florida played last three minutes of Monday night’s contest without senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who rolled his ankle after coming down on a UConn player’s foot, immediately went the locker room and was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. Wilbekin scored 15 points on the evening and also picked up two dimes, three boards and a couple swipes.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Significant stretch: The Huskies took advantage of four Gators turnovers – two each by Wilbekin and senior forward Casey Prather – and exploded on a 10-0 run in the second half. UF went scoreless for four minutes as it saw its lead evaporate, though Florida was able to gain it back minutes later after a short 6-0 run.
Perfect play: On a fastbreak early in the second half, Wilbekin took control of the ball and drove the lane before looking off the defense and placing a soft lob in the air to Prather, who ran down the wing and slammed it home with two hands as part of a 7-0 run. Prather scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting and matched Young with seven rebounds. He also registered three assists but coughed up five turnovers.
Standout stat: UConn only picked up eight offensive rebounds in the game but grabbed three of them in the final 1:09. The Huskies got three attempts from downtown on their second-to-last possession (with Napier hitting the last one for his four-point play) and two chances to win the game (with Napier draining the buzzer-beater).
Memorable moment: With just over a minute left in the first half, Young intercepted an outlet pass and dished it to Wilbekin then immediately ran back on offense and got position in the post. Wilbekin fed Young the ball with his back to the basket, and he quickly hit a turnaround old-school rolling hook to end a 14-1 run for UConn.
What it means: The Gators are now 4-4 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all four losses coming away from their home court. UF has lost six-straight and is 1-13 overall in its last 14 road games against ranked opponents. Even though they were without Wilbekin and facing plenty of adversity, the Gators once again failed to pull off a last-minute victory away from home
Next up: Florida has a full week off before it hosts No. 6 Kansas at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Dec. 10. The Gators will look to win their 21st straight game in the O’Dome and 22nd in a row against a non-conference opponent.