The No. 16 Florida Gators (8-2) picked up another huge victory on Tuesday night in the 2013 Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, holding on for a hard-fought 77-75 victory over the No. 15 Memphis Tigers (7-2).
OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ eighth win with The Fastbreak.
It was over when: Memphis guard Joe Jackson, the team’s leading scorer with 17 points, drove the lane with six seconds remaining and his team down two only to be stifled by tight defense from Florida forwards senior Will Yeguete and redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith. Yeguete cleaned up with four points and four rebounds, while Finney-Smith finished with 14 points and a team-high eight boards.
Prominent player: Gators senior F Casey Prather once again proved to be his team’s most valuable asset on the court, scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting while hitting all six of his free throws including four with less than 1:20 to play. Prather scored Florida’s last eight points and also finished with five rebounds and a block.
Standout stats: UF dominated the boards, earning a 36-25 advantage overall while doubling up its opponent on the offensive glass (14-7). On the other hand, Memphis bothered Florida into commit 18 turnovers while only coughing up 11 of its own. The forced changes in possession negated the Gators’ rebounding advantage and kept the game closer than it perhaps should have been.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
First half focus: Florida jumped ahead by a game-high 12 points midway through the first half by hitting four of its first six shots from beyond the arc, but an 8-0 run spanning just over a minute cut the Gators’ advantage down to four. Memphis eventually took a 36-35 lead with 2:41 to play thanks to a 6-0 run, but UF fought back to lead 41-38 at the break.
Significant stretch: A quick 5-1 run capped by UF freshman point guard Kasey Hill’s first career three-pointer gave Florida an eight-point lead with 6:03 to play. The Tigers ate into that advantage, but the Gators held on through the remainder of the contest. Hill finished with five points, three assists, three boards and three turnovers.
Perfect play: Though he struggled with turnovers and rushed miscues, but Hill completed a beautiful assist to senior center Patric Young with 4:23 left in the first half. Hill threaded the needle with a bounce pass down the lane to Young, who was running to the basket and laid it in with ease to put Florida ahead 35-30. Young got in early foul trouble and eventually fouled out of the game but looked great in the first half. He left the game with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds including six offensive.
What it means: The Gators improved to 2-2 against top 25-ranked opponents this season and defeated a ranked team away from its home court for the first time since Dec. 17, 2011 (vs. Texas A&M in Sunrise, FL). UF also picked up its fourth single-digit victory in six tries this year after going 0-6 in such contests last season.
Next up: Florida plays its final neutral-site contest of the regular season when it faces Fresno State on Saturday in Sunrise, FL as part of the 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BB&T Center.