No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (3-4) absolutely collapsed in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, blowing an 18-point lead and falling 71-65 to the No. 11/11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) in the 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
The Gators are now under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: The biggest scoring stretch of the game – a 23-3 run with 18 points combined by Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. – included four Florida turnovers and the visitors going 1-for-10 from the field; it lasted 7:53 and gave Kansas a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to play. Overall, the Jayhawks outscored the Gators by 21 points in the second half with UF at one point failing to hit a field goal for 7:37.
Significant stretches: With the Gators leading by a game-high 18 points, the Jayhawks got right back in the contest with a 9-0 run that cut KU’s deficit to single digits with about 14 minutes left in the game. It allowed Kansas to hang in long enough to end the game with its incredible scoring stretch as Florida melted down at Allen Fieldhouse.
Prominent players: A pair of young forwards – freshman Devin Robinson and sophomore Chris Walker – each registered career-highs in points scored with 13 and 12, respectively. The duo was also Florida’s top two leading scorers and rebounders (five boards each) on the evening with Walker going 5-for-6 from the field. Kansas was led by Selden, who finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Alexander registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
First half focus: Trailing by four early, Florida took off on a 14-0 run including four-straight points by Walker back-to-back threes from redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith and junior guard Michael Frazier II. Kansas missed five consecutive shots and committed four turnovers as it suddenly found itself down by 10. A 9-0 UF scoring stretch – including four more points by Walker and a trey from Robinson – pushed the visitors ahead 35-18 with 3:20 to play until the half, but KU hit a layup at the buzzer to trail 39-24 at the break.
Standout stat: The Gators looked to have finally found some offensive rhythm in the first half, but it all disappeared over the latter 20 minutes of the contest. Florida made just one field goal over a span of 10:25 in the second half, allowing Kansas to fight all the way back from an 18-point deficit. UF entered the latter period +7 on the boards but ended the game -8 with KU outrebounding its visitors 24-9 after the break.
What it means: The Gators have fallen below .500 on the season (for the first time since 1998) and will be completely out of both top 25 polls – perhaps not even receiving votes in either – come Monday. Florida also failed to make the offensive strides that head coach Billy Donovan had hoped to see, especially coming out of a full week of practice.
Next up: UF will host Yale on Monday at 7:00 p.m. after the Bulldogs pulled off a 45-44 upset over UConn on Friday evening.
Everything else: Freshman point guard Kasey Hill regressed offensively (2-for-9) but registered a team-high eight assists with just two turnovers … Finney-Smith and Frazier combined to go 7-for-18 from the field for 17 points … every Florida player finished negative in the +/- with Frazier earning a team-worst -10 for the evening … despite the back-and-forth nature of the game, there were only two ties and two lead changes in the contest … UF led for 25:03 on Friday with KU leading for just 11:48