It took five minutes longer than they probably hoped, but the No. 12 Florida Gators (6-2) came away from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday evening with a 78-72 victory over the Arizona Wildcats (6-3) in overtime.
Florida sophomore center Patric Young posted his third double-double of the season, scoring a career-high 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds (six offensive). Gators senior point guard Erving Walker, who struggled from the floor in regulation, scored seven points in overtime and finished with 14 to go along with five assists and five turnovers.
Arizona jumped ahead to an early lead but was also sloppy at the start of the game, turning the ball over four times in the first four minutes of the contest. Junior forward Erik Murphy and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario checked in for the first time less than five minutes into the game and each hit a three-pointer as part of a 12-2 run that gave Florida a 14-7 advantage and its first lead of the game.
Rosario wound up going 3-for-5 from downtown for 10 points in the first half, and the Gators were supported early on by Young, who scored 12 of the team’s first 20 points. However, the Wildcats ended the half on a 6-0 run – capped by a buzzer-beating floater by G/F Kevin Parrom – and took a one-point lead into halftime.
Tied at 41 with 15 minutes to play, Arizona used an 11-4 run to take a 52-46 lead and eventually jumped ahead seven points. Florida struggled shooting again in the second half but eventually put together a 14-4 run of their own to jump ahead 66-63 with just eight seconds remaining.
Hill hit all three of his attempts to knot it at 66, and a half court three-pointer by Walker clanged off the backboard at the end of regulation.
Walker scored first for the Gators in overtime and hit five three throws down the stretch to help solidify a win for Florida. Three Wildcats (including Hill) fouled out in the extra period, and the Gators never trailed once in overtime.
Florida opened the contest 0-for-7 from the line and went just 1-for-9 in the first half. The Gators were only 2-of-14 from the charity stripe with 2:59 to play in regulation but hit 5-of-6 to close the second half and 8-of-10 in overtime to finish the game by connecting on 13 of their final 16 attempts.
Arizona was efficient from the line all evening (11-of-15) and cut down on their turnovers, coughing the ball up just four times in the second half after giving Florida 10 extra chances in the first 20 minutes.
Aside from Young, who shot 80 percent from the field, the Gators made just 30 percent of their attempts from the floor. UF shot 25.9 percent from downtown, outrebounded the UA 40-31 (17-7) and only turned the ball over 11 times.
Though it may not show up on the stat sheet, sophomore F Will Yeguete was a presence for Florida throughout the game, grabbing eight boards (three offensive) and four steals while scoring seven points on 3-for-3 shooting. He was involved in numerous other rebounds and turnover situations.
Gators junior G Kenny Boynton had his worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 2-of-11 shots (1-for-6 from downtown) for nine points. Freshman G Bradley Beal also scored nine points, adding six rebounds and two assists.
UF will travel to Jacksonville, FL on Friday for a neutral site contest against Rider. The game will air live on Comcast Sports South (check your local listings).
Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press