Coming off their biggest win of the season, the newly-minted No. 19/20 Florida Gators were looking to continue the momentum just under two days later against the Jacksonville Dolphins at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida (8-3) instead proved that they were not up to the task and dropped a 71-68 overtime thriller to their in-state visitors.
The Gators began the game just like their last: slow and inefficient. Florida only posted six points in the first seven minutes of the game while simultaneously turning the ball over five times. They completed the first half with 13 turnovers and only shot 9-of-20 from the field, allowing Jacksonville (7-3) to take a 29-27 lead into the locker rooms.
UF looked like it was starting to turn things around in the second half as they went up a game-high seven points on a trey by junior point guard Erving Walker with 6:58 remaining. That advantage would be short lived, however, with JU putting together a 7-0 run to tie the game up at 56 just three minutes later.
Up two with the ball and 33 seconds left in the game, the Gators looked to close out the contest. Unfortunately senior forward Chandler Parsons turned the ball over near mid-court; Dolphins guard Ayron Hardy stole it and dunked it with 21 seconds remaining to force overtime..
Walker hit three of four free throws early in overtime to give Florida a 64-63 advantage, but a turnover in the backcourt by sophomore G Kenny Boynton allowed Jacksonville to take a 65-64 lead.
Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin knocked in a missed layup by Walker to put UF back up one, but four-straight free throws by JU G Keith McDougald would end up icing the game for the underdogs.
Though he scored a season-high 21 points and made 9-of-13 free throws, Walker missed a game-winner in regulation and game-tying shot in overtime for Florida. He also shot only 5-of-12 from the field and 2-for-6 from downtown.
Filling out the box score for the Gators with double-digit points were Macklin (13), Boynton (12) and senior F Alex Tyus (10). Macklin and Boynton combined to go 10-for-27 from the field, part of the reason why the team as a whole only shot 35.6 percent (21-of-59).
The Dolphins were led by McDougald’s game-high 18 points but were also fortunate enough to have an impressive showing from Hardy, who scored 12 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Jacksonville out-shot Florida from the field and downtown, but the Gators out-rebounded the Dolphins 42-30. UF turned the ball over four more times than JU, but Jacksonville fouled Florida twice as often (26-13), part of the reason the offense was so off-balance.
The Gators will try to collect themselves before facing Radford on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on Comcast Sports South (check your local listings).