The No. 12 Florida Gators took down the Arizona Wildcats 78-72 in overtime Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and the players provided their thoughts on the win.
FOCUSING ON SOME POSITIVES
Before diving into all of the things that the Gators did wrong Wednesday, Donovan made it a point to mention how proud he was of the team not getting down on itself for shooting poorly and instead sticking together and pulling through in the end.
“Our guys really showed resiliency. Up three with five seconds to go, our guys probably could have come to the huddle disappointed and disenchanted that the game is going to overtime feeling like they had it. We showed some resiliency and some fight,” he said.
“I was pretty annoyed going into the overtime. Our guys kept a pretty good focus and they battled and they fought and they found a way to win the game in overtime. It wasn’t one of our better games. I didn’t feel like we played very intelligently. Arizona had a lot to do with that. They were certainly well-prepared and they did a great job. The things that I thought would cause us some problems in the game really did cause us some problems. Our guys found a way to hang in there and make some plays and finally make a few free throws to win the game.”
CHARITY STRIPE NOT SO CHARITABLE
There is only one way to say it: Florida was awful from the free throw line Wednesday. The Gators opened the contest 0-7 from the line and went 1-9 in the first half. Then stuck at 2-14 with just 2:59 left in regulation, Florida turned it on and hit 5-6 to close the second half and 8-10 in overtime. The Gators hit 13 of their finaly 16 attempts (thanks mostly to senior point guard Erving Walker) but still shot just 47 percent in the game.
“I’ve never ever seen in my life 2-for-14 at one point from the free throw line. I could go out right now and make 2-for-14 left handed. Two-for-14? Everybody in this room could make 2-for-14,” Donovan said emphatically. “I thought we drained ourselves where we had some really good possessions in the first half that led to us getting fouls. We had them in foul trouble in the first half. We got to the bonus very early in the first half, and we just completely killed runs and momentum with our free throw shooting.
“It’s not one guy. It’s our whole team, and we have to do a better job. In overtime and coming down the stretch we did do a better job making free throws. The two biggest things in the game that I look at in the stat sheet is Walker and [Kenny Boynton – what they were from the field – and our free throw shooting. Those two things were somewhat disappointing.”
More on Walker and Boynton’s shooting is coming from OGGOA on Thursday.
YEGUETE THE WORM
Aside from sophomore center Patric Young
– who scored a career-high 25 points on an efficient 12-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds and only three fouls in 38 minutes – sophomore forward Will Yeguete
was the star of the show Wednesday. In addition to hitting all three of his shots, Yeguete grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive) and four steals; however that stat line barely equates to his impact in the game.
Yeguete was all over the place Wednesday, helping create turnovers and rebounding opportunities, playing great defense and often being in the right place at the right time on loose balls. Donovan noticed that and offered up some great praise.
“He drives me nuts from the free throw line, he really does, but the thing about him is all of those intangible things, I really do think he is like Dennis Rodman on a smaller scale. He just rebounds. He’s like The Worm. He just comes up with plays, deflections, steals, hands on balls, offensive rebounds, [keeping] stuff alive. He gives incredible effort,” he said.
“All of those things that people look at as being very unglamorous, he makes them pretty glamorous by the way he approaches it and attacks. He’s the one guy on our team that, when you see him do those things, you can clearly say, ‘Wow, that’s what coaches love. They love those guys.’ Fans love guys and appreciate guys that give that kind of effort and do all the little things. He’s got a great ability to do that. He’s really special in that area.”
Yeguete’s teammates also appreciate him. “That’s my best friend and my roommate as well,” Young said after the game. “Just to find him it is that kind of bond you just can’t really describe. Whoever he’s guarding, he’s going to give them hell. If anybody crosses over in front of him, he’s going to get his hand on it.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on why he didn’t play redshirt junior G Mike Rosario in the second half: “I thought Mike played really good. He was really locked in; he was focused. We got down, and I really tried to keep defense out there with [Casey] Prather in the second half, Yeguete in the second half and Scottie Wilbekin. I thought we really needed to get defensive stops. With Arizona’s speed and quickness son the floor there in the second half, Mike was out there but you could tell he was a step behind on some plays. We were getting put into some rotations. If it wasn’t for Mike in that first half, we probably could have been down 10-12 points going into the half. I think he really responded well from the Syracuse game.”
» Walker on the game: “Coach just said keep playing. It’s a 40-minute game. Teams make runs, and that’s a good team we played. For us to come out and win after the way we played today – not that we played bad. Pat played great for us. He picked up the slack for everybody. For us to come out with a win, that’s great for us tonight.”
» Walker on how he thinks the team played: “We feel like we got away with one. Coach D told us great game. We were resilient and he was proud of us. He told us there were nights the ball just won’t go in the hole and we have to defend and rebound to still win games. Our crowd tonight helped us out a lot tonight being at home. With the way we shot the ball, it was huge for us. [...] We got kind of lucky tonight.”
» Young on the team’s mindset in overtime: “Everyone was like, ‘Man, that was crazy he called that.’ But you got to keep playing. We say it’s a 40-minute game, but today it was a 45-minute game. We had to keep our mindset that we were going to play hard defensively, we were going to take care of the ball and we were going to knock down free throws. We didn’t shoot very good free throws today, but in the clutch we knocked them down and in overtime.”
» Freshman G Bradley Beal on the foul with five seconds left: “Nobody agreed with the call but you have to turn around and start focusing on overtime. You have to stay composed and just play basketball.”
» Beal on the Rowdy Reptiles: “The crowd was pretty hype – it was the sixth man for us.”