Florida Gators basketball (7-5) saw its five-game winning streak over the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (8-5) come to an end on Tuesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida.
A miscue by one Florida player with less than a second to go cost the Gators a well-deserved overtime after they fought back from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes to play. The Seminoles triumphed 65-63 at home.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:
It was over when: With the game tied at 54, Florida missed three consecutive baskets down the stretch and Florida State guard Devon Bookert drained a dagger three-pointer with 1:29 remaining to push the Seminoles ahead of the Gators 59-54. However, Florida fought its way back to tie the contest at 63, ending a 9-3 stretch with an alley-oop layup by redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith. The Gators would eventually fall in the contest, however, as redshirt senior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz – hoping to corral an offensive rebound on a Seminoles miss with less than a second to play – accidentally tipped in an air-ball for what became FSU’s game-winning basket.
“I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, been in a lot of games, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. My heart goes out to him because he really tried to make the right play. One of the things you worry about in that situation, with three seconds, is a quick shot and then obviously an opportunity for them to offensive rebound. I think he made an aggressive play,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game.
“I think that play is probably going to be talked about, but if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have been in the game. He did a lot of great things and even early in the game, when we got down, we put him in the game, the lead changed; the second half, the same thing happened. I feel bad the game ended like that. I told him he needs to move past that because he tried to make the right play.”
Significant stretches: After giving up consecutive baskets to open the second half, Florida erased a six-point deficit with a 10-1 run – including back-to-back threes by Finney-Smith and freshman point guard Chris Chiozza – to take a 38-35 lead with 14:39 to play. Unfortunately for UF, FSU responded with an 14-2 stretch to negate that effort and take a seven-point lead with eight minutes left in the contest. Florida missed six field goals over 5:02, seeing its lead disappear.
Prominent players: Sophomore PG Kasey Hill did much of the heavy lifting for the Gators, scoring a team-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting while going 3-for-3 from the charity stripe with a team-high three assists. Finney-Smith was also effective with 14 points (6-for-11) and seven boards.
Important injury: Returning from a mid-foot sprain and strep throat, redshirt junior guard Eli Carter saw less than a full minute of action before getting injured again, going down with a sprained ankle about 30 seconds after he came off the bench. Carter was ruled out for the remainder of the contest by the Gators’ training staff.
“He wanted to try to go back in there and play. It’s the same foot that he sprained previously. I don’t know how severe or how bad it is. I thought he was going to try to go back in but then decided he couldn’t do it,” Donovan said after the game.
First half focus: Florida started 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, trailing Florida State for the first eight minutes of the contest. The Gators took advantage of four Seminoles turnovers with a 10-0 run over four minutes that pushed the visitors ahead of the hosts 20-13. FSU was able to respond with an 11-2 scoring stretch to end the half as UF went 0-for-7 from the field over the final 3:15 of the opening 20 minutes. The teams combined to go just 19-for-56 from the floor (.339) and 2-for-17 from three (.118) with 24 turnovers.
Perfect plays: Trailing by two after committing a turnover, Florida tied things up at 54 with 3:57 to play as Hill stole the ball in the backcourt and drove right to the hoop for an open layup. It was the fifth-straight field goal that the Gators made as they climbed out of a seven-point hole.
Standout stats: Florida was horrible offensively, hitting 26-of-61 shots (43 percent) and 4-of-19 attempts from downtown (21 percent). The Gators also committed 17 turnovers and 19 fouls, while the Noles were also careless with 15 turnovers but only hacked 12 times on the evening.
What it means: Florida lost a game it should have won against an inferior opponent. The Gators also saw a four-game winning streak come to an end as they played sloppy, ineffective and – at times – inept basketball for most of the 40 minutes on Tuesday.
Next up: UF has one more non-conference game to play before moving on to its Southeastern Conference slate as Florida hosts UConn on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 2 p.m.
Everything else: The Gators’ first four shot attempts in the game were from downtown; all were missed … UF and FSU combined to start 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc … six of the Florida’s first 15 points came on goaltending calls … Kurtz finished with a game-high eight boards … junior G Michael Frazier II was just 4-for-12 from the field (2-for-6 from three) with 11 points … freshman F Devin Robinson also struggled, missing all five of his threes and six of seven attempts from the field