No. 13/15 Florida Gators basketball (6-1) came through in the clutch, inching out a 67-66 victory over their in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (5-2) on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the hard-fought win, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to offer up some of his thoughts.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida has now won five-straight games against Florida State and increased its all-time series lead to 43-22 (12-7 under Donovan). UF is now 21-6 against FSU at home (7-1 under Donovan).
» The Gators have won 20-straight games at home in the O’Dome and 21 in a row against non-conference opponents on their home court.
» Florida’s senior class (2010) is just the second in school history, following in the footsteps of the 2009 class, to never lose to its in-state rivals.
» After failing to win a single-digit decision last season (0-6) and combining to drop eight straight such decisions dating back to March 10, 2012, the Gators are 2-1 this season in similar opportunities.
» Florida picked up its first victory by a single point since Feb. 12, 2011.
» The Gators have outrebounded their opponents in five-straight games.
All tied up at 66 with 22.4 seconds to play, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin ran out the clock, began to drive to the paint but stopped and missed a pull-up jumper. Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith grabbed the rebound, got fouled and sunk the game-winning point. Donovan went through the situation after the game.
“[Wilbekin] didn’t make the right read on the play. We executed the timing of the play very well. When Scottie went, I wish he would’ve driven all the way to the rim and provided some help,” he said. “What was open was Dorian was open at the top of the key and instead he took a pull-up shot. The one thing that did happen was when Dorian was at the top of the key, it gave him a free run in.
“I thought our guys, I thought Scottie executed really, really well because we didn’t give them a chance to call timeout. We only left them 1.3 seconds and we gave ourselves a chance to offensive rebound. … I thought Scottie could’ve turned the corner and kind of gotten to the rim and got it up on the glass. But he took a pull-up and the same thing happened for us. We gave ourselves a chance to offensive rebound.”
FSU nearly made UF pay in that time, inbounding the ball to just beyond half court and heaving up a desperation buzzer-beater that clanged off the back of the rim.
“Our guys played it just like we told them we wanted them to. We wanted them to try to inbound the basketball in front of half court and that’s what we did,” Donovan explained. “The worst thing you want to do in that situation is foul or have them throw the ball all the way into the lane and get sealed off and give a layup up. … I thought our guys did a good job. He almost made a heck of a shot, so you gotta give the kid credit for at least giving the ball a chance to go in.”