The No. 12/14 UConn Huskies (8-0) handed the No. 15/12 Florida Gators (6-2) a tough defeat on Monday night at the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT, winning 65-64 on a buzzer-beater that head coach Billy Donovan respectfully called “luck” and a “fluke” after the game. Donovan provided his perspective on the loss following the contest.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» UConn knotted up the all-time series between the two teams at 1-1.
» Florida fell to 4-4 against top 25-ranked opponents dating back to last season with all four losses coming away from its home court.
» The Gators have lost six-straight and are 1-13 overall in their last 14 road games against ranked opponents. The Huskies improved to 11-1 in their last 12 games against ranked opponents outside their conference.
» UF lost for just the ninth time since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in the game (60-9).
» The Gators are now 59-78 under Donovan in games decided by five points or less.
» Florida will host UConn next season in the second half of the home-and-home series.
Down one with 17.7 seconds left, UConn put the ball in the hands of point guard Shabazz Napier, who to that point had scored 24 of his team’s 63 points on the evening. After fighting out of a trap beyond the three-point line, Napier dribbled into the lane and missed a wild jump shot. Luckily for the Huskies, forward Deandre Daniels knocked back the loose ball to Napier, who shot a second jumper with 0.3 seconds left on the clock that swished as the buzzer sounded.
“We actually did a really good job,” said Donovan about Florida’s defense on the final possession. “We made the decision that we were going to trap him – and we did trap him – we got him to take a very, very difficult off-balance shot.
“The guy that won the game for them was DeAndre Daniels. He made an unbelievable tip-out off-balance which kept the ball alive. What we did was we had guys that were on Napier kind of ran to the rim to go defensive rebound, which left space for Napier. We needed to keep a guy there and we didn’t. But his shot really was luck in the fact that the ball was tipped to him. If it’s tipped anywhere else [the game’s over].”
He later added: “The last play was really a fluke play. I don’t think DeAndre Daniels even knew…he just tipped the ball back because he was off-balance…but it was a great play by him to at least keep the possession alive.”
The more egregious mistake, as Donovan also points out, is the fact that the Gators allowed the hosts to have three separate chances to tie the game on UConn’s second-to-last possession. The Huskies grabbed two offensive rebounds off a pair missed three pointers, and Napier finally drained one on his team’s third attempt. Napier also drew a phantom foul on the make, which Donovan was none too happy about, and wound up completing a four-point play to give his team the lead.