Fastbreak: Florida holds on to top Kansas 67-61

The No. 19 Florida Gators (7-2) scored their most prominent win of the young season on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, holding on for a hard-fought 67-61 victory over the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) in the final game of the 2013 Big-12 SEC Challenge.

OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ seventh win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Kansas committed its 24th turnover of the game with 45.3 seconds remaining, giving Florida the ball back with a six-point lead. Senior forward Casey Prather got fouled on the ensuing offensive possession, headed to the line and hit two free throws to put UF up eight with 37.1 seconds left. Though KU cut its deficit to four points, Prather hit 10-of-12 free throws in the second half to propel his team to victory. He scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight boards.

Prominent player: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was a firecracker for the Gators all night, playing superb basketball in the first half and seemingly finding a way to put the ball in the basket every time the Jayhawks threatened in the latter 20 minutes. He handled the rock like a dream and played terrific defense, too, finishing with a team-highs of six assists, four steals and, oh yeah, 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Standout stat: Florida dominated all phases of the game in the first half, leading by 18 at one point and taking a 15-point advantage into the break. The Gators accomplished this by outrebounding their opponents 11-4 on the offensive glass. Florida also forced Kansas to commit 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, matching a season-high the visitors had registered in an entire game. KU fought back in the second half by “only” coughing it up eight times and grabbing four more offensive rebounds than UF.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.

Significant stretch: After starting 1-for-9 from the field and finding themselves down 10-3 early, the Gators took off on an explosive 21-0 run including a pair of three-pointers from redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith. Florida led 24-10 while holding Kansas scoreless for 8:42, eventually stretching its advantage to 18 points just a few minutes later. Finney-Smith scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half, hitting 4-of-6 threes and picking up five boards.

Perfect play: Midway through the first half, Prather missed a relatively easy layup but senior center Patric Young was right behind him to grab the rebound off the rim with one hand and slam it home for a thunderous dunk. The O’Dome erupted in response. Young scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds but went just 2-for-7 from the line.

Exciting ending: Young missed the front end of consecutive one-and-ones with less than three minutes to play, and Jayhawks freshman guard Andrew Wiggins took advantage by draining two treys to cut his team’s deficit to six points. Wiggins hit one more three a few seconds later to drop the Gators’ lead to five, and UF saw it dip to four points with just 11 seconds left. Wiggins finished with a double-double including 11 boards and a career-high 26 points on 7-of-14 shooting (4-of-8 from downtown).

What it means: Florida improved to 5-0 against top-25 opponents at home over the last two seasons while winning their 21st consecutive game in the O’Dome against a non-conference opponent (22 in a row overall inside the House of Horrors). The Gators also made a statement nationally that it should undoubtedly be considered one of the best teams in the country despite losing its previous two games against ranked competition.

Next up: UF got its best decision of the young season and now has a full week off before it goes up against another top 25-ranked opponent, No. 16 Memphis, in the Jimmy V. Classic on Dec. 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.

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20 Responses to “Fastbreak: Florida holds on to top Kansas 67-61”

  1. Joonas says:

    Wilbekin was my player of the game, everytime Kansas made a shot to make it seem like they would make a run, Scotty came up with a big shot. And I don’t think he was playing on a 100% fine ankle either.

  2. obgator says:

    Great win. This team looked dangerous despite suspensions and injuries, but a fully loaded squad with Chris Walker joining the team is easily a serious contender to win it all.

    Just wish Harris had his head on straight and our depth would be ridiculous.

  3. steve says:

    when are they going to clear Walker?

  4. TST says:

    Good game by the Gators over a ranked Kansas team . Glad to see them bring it home .

  5. Basshole says:

    Nice win! Now that our guards are healthy, we will really get to see what this team has to offer.

  6. Tguygator says:

    Love this team, but bad free throw shots came close to costing us the game.

    It was great to see the O Dome rocking again.

  7. Croc says:

    Great win, but the late collapses are still worrisome.

    Collapsed vs Butler, Collapsed vs Louisville.
    I won’t say they collapsed vs Uconn because they played well. That was just bad luck.

    FM

  8. Croc says:

    So has Muschamp lost both Cook and Lane now?
    Muschamp supporters what do you have to say for yourself?

    FM

  9. Gatoralum88 says:

    What do ya’ get when you start Yeguete? SQUADOOSH! Yes, I know he’s a senior who’s paid his dues, but it’s time for Billy to start Finney-Smith and have Yeguete come off the bench. I think it would help with this team’s (often) slow starts. Of course, Billy’s the man! It’s just my opinion.

    • steve says:

      Well Chris Walker comes back next week anyways making our rotation looking like
      PG Kasey Hill
      SG Scottie Wilbekin, Michael Frazier
      SF Casey Prather, Dorian Finney-Smith
      PF Chris Walker, Will Yeguete
      C Patric Young

      • Gatoralum88 says:

        That starting lineup would work for me! I’ve seen Chris Walker twice on TV before. Once in the state championship game against Hawthorne (where he was a man among boys) and also in the McDonald’s slam dunk contest (which he won with ease). He’s an athletic freak. Heck, I’d even go a step further and start Finney-Smith over Prather. I know he’s off to a hot start but a sense a drop off from Prather come SEC play. I love Finney-Smith’s game and right now he’s their best rebounder. I also like the idea of Hill and Wilbekin in the backcourt together since Frazier’s been struggling to get his shot off. Once Walker comes aboard, Billy will definitely have some nice options. Go Gators!

  10. Ken (CA) says:

    Wiggins is every bit the beast he was billed as. Single handedly kept them in the game, just a good thing they don’t have anyone who can handle the rock.

    50% free throw shooting isn’t going to get us far. If we don’t get more consistent at the charity stripe (consistently better), it will likely be extremely costly at some point when you get to the one and done part of the season.

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