The No. 7/8 Florida Gators flew to Columbus, OH looking for a signature victory early in the season against a new rival and one of the top teams in the country.
Florida (1-1) did not succeed to that end but held serve against the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0), falling 81-74 in a Global Sports Shootout game on Tuesday night.
Ohio State senior guard William Buford led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and Buckeyes sophomore center Jared Sullinger contributed 16 points and five rebounds in his team’s winning effort.
It did not take long for Ohio State to answer as OSU took advantage of nine first-half UF turnovers and outscored the Gators 10-3, holding a 35-32 lead at the break.
The Buckeyes came out firing in the second half, scoring five unanswered points and using a 15-6 run to take a 12-point lead with 13:42 remaining. Ohio State put their foot on the pedal at that point, eventually going up a game-high 16 points with under eight minutes to play.
Florida, however, refused to go away. Freshman G Brad Beal scored five quick points on a trey and layup, and Murphy put back a missed layup by Beal to complete a 7-0 run that cut UF’s deficit to single digits, 64-55.
The Gators were unable to maintain their newly found momentum, allowing OSU to keep a significant lead for the remainder of the contest. Junior G Kenny Boynton hit a pair of threes with less than a minute to play, but it was too little too late for Florida.
Beal led the Gators with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting (3-for-7 from downtown) but also coughed up a game-high five turnovers.
Sophomore C Patric Young, tasked with guarding Sullinger all evening, finished 14 points and 12 rebounds for his second-straight double-double. Boynton and Murphy also scored in double figures, contributing 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Senior point guard Erving Walker, tasked by head coach Billy Donovan to be a game manager this year, had four assists, three turnovers and six rebounds. He scored just four points and was 1-for-6 from the field (0-for-3 from beyond the arc).
Florida went 11/22 from downtown on the evening and outrebounded Ohio State 34-25 (10-5 offensive) but gave up nine more turnovers (16-7) and hit 14 fewer free throws (27-13). UF shot just 61.9 percent from the line compared to 79.4 percent by OSU.
The Gators have less than 48 hours to prepare for their next opponent as they are set to return home to take on North Florida on Thursday at 8 p.m. The game will air live on FOX Sports Florida; check your local listings for availability.