It has been just over 11 months since the Jacksonville Dolphins upset Florida Gators basketball at home but no one wearing orange and blue has forgotten the overtime defeat that gave Florida its second loss to an unranked opponent in under three weeks.
Gators sophomore center Patric Young, who grew up in Jacksonville, FL, said Wednesday that he played basketball with some friends and Dolphins players that offseason and laughed at the possibility that Jacksonville could beat Florida on their own turf in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
He wasn’t laughing after JU upended UF 71-68 in the House of Horrors.
“I played pickup with them in the summer, and they were talking all the noise before the game,” he reminisces. “They came in our own home court and beat us, embarrassed us in front of our fans.”
That is why Young’s phone blew up with missed calls and text messages after the game.
“I didn’t text any of the guys back. I’ll tell you that,” he said with a smile.
Young’s recollection of the game is quite vivid. He points out that while it was a back-and-forth contest with Jacksonville certainly playing quite well, miscues by Florida at the end of the second half cost the Gators the game.
It was tied at 58 with 2:55 remaining, but Florida had taken a two-point lead with 56 seconds left after Alex Tyus hit a free throw. Chandler Parsons turned the ball over with 24 seconds to play, Ayron Hardy threw down a dunk to tie the game and senior point guard Erving Walker missed a jumper with four seconds left to send it into overtime.
“The worst part was actually when the dude took the ball out of CP’s hands and just scored at the end of regulation. That was the worst part,” Young recalls. “Even though we were playing so poorly (UF shot 36 percent from the field, 21 percent from three), we still had the game in our hands and literally gave them the ball right there.”
JU outscored the Gators 10-7 in overtime to capture the victory. Walker – who missed the three at the end of regulation as well as two threes, a layup and two free throws in overtime – believes the loss wound up helping Florida last season.
“It was a huge wakeup call,” he said. “When we lost, coach said our backs were against the wall. We just beat Kansas State and we didn’t handle success well. We learned from that last year, and we’re not going to let that happen again.”
With so many players on that Dolphins squad returning for this year’s tilt, Gators head coach Billy Donovan has reminded his players not to take Jacksonville lightly. Florida has to treat them just like any other opponent and realize that one team can beat another on any given night.
“If there’s anything for the returning guys to understand and know from that game, it’s that there are a lot of players on Jacksonville who were on that team and a part of them coming in here and winning. Our guys have a respect level for their talent, for their team. This is a team that has our guys’ attention going into it,” Donovan said.
Young is certainly on high alert. He would prefer not to have anyone to answer to after Friday night’s game is in the books.
“We can’t take back the game from last year, but a lot of the guys have that game in mind from last year and want to win big,” he said.
“Just taking a win would be good enough in my book.”
HISTORY and STREAKS
» The Gators are on an eight-game home winning streak dating back to last season.
» Florida has outrebounded all four opponents this year and is averaging an +11.5 rebounding margin in each contest.
» The Gators are shooting 43.5 percent from downtown and have hit at least 10 threes in each game. Florida has made a trey in 655 consecutive games, a school record.
» Three Gators – Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy – are shooting better than 50 percent from three (each has a minimum of 14 attempts).
» Florida is 17th nationally in scoring (85.5), 29th in rebounding (41.8) and 27th in assists (17.0) whereas Jacksonville does not rank better than 168th in any of the three categories. However, the Dolphins are shooting one-tenth of a percent better from the field than the Gators, hitting 47.9 percent of their shots on the season. JU ranks 66th nationally in field goal percentage, while UF ranks 67th (47.8 percent).
» The Gators are tied for 298th nationally in free throw shooting (60 percent).
» Florida is No. 6 nationally in points per possession (1.23).