Just three days after putting together their most complete game of the season, the Florida Gators (16-4, 5-1 SEC) showed the tenacity and gumption it takes to win a nail-biter against a talented opponent by defeating the Georgia Bulldogs (14-5, 3-3 SEC) 104-91 in a double-overtime thriller on the road. Head coach Billy Donovan, who saw his team score only 45 points two games ago at Auburn (the lowest point total during his career at Florida), also watched on as the Gators scored 104 points one week later (the most during his UF career against a Southeastern Conference opponent).
WELCOME TO THE CHANDLER PARSONS SHOW
For a player who barely made an appearance in the stat sheet after the first half, Parsons really turned things around the rest of the game and came up clutch in overtime. He grabbed 11 of his 12 rebounds after halftime, scored 18 points (including nine of his team’s 17 in the second overtime) and ended up notching his third double-double of the season (10th of his career).
“I was really proud of his effort on the boards for us,” Donovan said after the game. Parsons chocked up his team’s ability to come through when it counted to their conditioning. “That’s [strength and conditioning coach] Matt Herring getting us up at 6 a.m., doing suicides,” he said. “It didn’t come easy. There were some plays on both sides. That was a big-time win for us, another overtime win that we needed.”
For Parsons, it all comes down to what awaits his team. “We’re still in first place, but we don’t want to let up,” he said. “We’re going to get some rest and try to build on this going into Mississippi State.”
WALKER GIVES IT AWAY, TAKES IT BACK
Junior point guard Erving Walker’s entire career in the orange and blue, it seems, is a mix of “Why did he do that?” and “How the heck did he do that?” moments. His performance Tuesday night was a perfect example.
With 1:32 remaining and his team up six points, Walker turned the ball over at the top of the key, allowing Georgia to score an easy basket. He missed a poorly shot three-pointer on the next possession and followed that up by failing to connect on the front end of a one-and-one with Florida up four and 36 seconds remaining. Walker got another chance to make it right as he found himself back at the line for a one-and-one with the Gators up one and 21 ticks left on the clock; he made the first, missed the second, and the Bulldogs wound up scoring with a game-tying layup to send the contest into overtime.
Walker remained out of it, mentally, in the first overtime. He missed back-to-back shots and committed a costly off-the-ball foul that resulted in two made free throws. That is when he decided to redeem himself by absolutely draining a trey from well beyond the arc to tie the game at 85 and force a second overtime.
“I knew I had put my team at risk with the missed free throws,” he said after the game. “I wanted to make up for it and give our team another life.” Speaking about his big triple, Walker added, “I was looking for [Trey Thompkins] and saw he was back. I didn’t want him to block it. When the clock said two seconds left, I let it go.”
Having always remained confident in Walker, Donovan believed Florida’s attitude in the second half was fueled by his heroics at the end of the first overtime. “I think Erv’s shot probably energized us a little bit,” he said. He also admits that, going into the first overtime, the Gators were “kind of teetering a bit” after giving up an eight-point lead with less than three minutes to go.
QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 12/25: Parsons turns it on, Walker’s redemption