Hoping to save the University of Florida from a disastrous weekend in Tallahassee, FL, No. 14/16 Florida Gators basketball (5-1) survived a late run to take down the Florida State Seminoles (5-1) 55-51 at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Sunday.
Up a game-high 13 points with 14:30 remaining in the second half, Florida allowed Florida State to rattle off a 15-3 run to narrow their lead to a single point. From there the game went back-and-forth until sophomore forward Erik Murphy put in a layup off an airballed three from sophomore guard Kenny Boynton to ice the contest for the Gators.
The Seminoles began the game with a quick 5-0 run including an opening three-pointer and fastbreak dunk. Minutes later, Gators freshman F Casey Prather hit a trey to give his team their first lead of the game; it would never be relinquished after that point.
A 12-2 run helped Florida extend their lead to 17-11, and a subsequent 9-2 run to end the half allowed the Gators to walk into the locker room up 30-21.
Florida started the second half strong with a 6-0 run including a three from junior point guard Erving Walker, free throw from freshman F Will Yeguete and jumper from Boynton that put them up a game-high 13 points.
Florida State went on their 15-3 run at that point, leaving UF scrambling to keep its 44-43 lead over FSU. After plenty of back-and-forth, Seminoles G Michael Snaer nailed a trey off a loose ball to cut the Gators’ lead to 53-51 with 51.4 seconds left.
Murphy’s layup made it a two-shot game, and Florida State conceded the contest after a turnover with only three seconds remaining.
Boynton led the way for the Gators with a team-high 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting (2-of-5 from downtown) with a game-high three steals and five rebounds. Murphy made his presence felt off the bench playing major minutes in place of senior F Alex Tyus. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting (1-of-1 from three) with a team-high six rebounds (three offensive).
With Tyus and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin only seeing 14 and 13 minutes on the court, respectively, Florida’s freshmen frontcourt players stepped up. Center Patric Young played 25 minutes grabbing five rebounds and Yeguete notched 22 minutes with five boards of his own.
The Gators were effective in somewhat shutting down Seminoles star F Chris Singleton, who was held to eight points on 2-of-12 shooting while only grabbing five rebounds. Snaer led Florida State with 15 points (5-of-6 from three), and G Derwin Kitchen contributed eight rebounds and four assists.
UF shot better from the field (38.1-33.3%) and the line (68-54.5%) than FSU but not downtown (37.5-41.2%). They grabbed six more rebounds, notched one more block and committed six fewer fouls but turned the ball over three more times (17-14).
Winning their first road game of the season and coming out victorious in Tallahassee for the first time since 2002, Florida will remain on the road for their following two contests – a neutral site contest against Central Florida in Orlando, FL on Dec. 1 and a true road game in Washington, D.C. against American on Dec. 5.
POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)
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