Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators win third straight, holding on to beat Arkansas

By Adam Silverstein
February 18, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators win third straight, holding on to beat Arkansas

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball has been up and down all season, but if this team’s play over the last homestand is any indication, it may be finding itself with the postseason approaching. Florida (17-9, 9-4 SEC) led by as many as 19 points on Tuesday night, and though it saw its lead dissipate, UF held on to win 73-59 over the defensively tough Arkansas Razorbacks (16-10, 4-9 SEC).

The Gators suffered a letdown for about 10 minutes in the middle of the game but were otherwise efficient offensively and active on defense as they put together a near-complete game against the Razorbacks. What exactly happened in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center? Let’s have a look with some fastbreak takeaways.

It was over when … freshman guard Scottie Lewis drove to the hoop for an athletic, highlight layup that put Florida up 13 with 1:35 to play. This after the Gators, which led by as few as two points with 12:45 remaining, pieced together a 10-0 run over a span of three minutes to go up by 14 with 3:39 until the final buzzer.

Florida used a 15-2 run early in the game to help build a 19-point advantage over Arkansas with 7:30 until halftime. However, the Hogs were able to answer back and outscored the hosts 17-3 spanning halftime to cut their deficit down to five. The visitors inched it down to two points by attacking inside, but the Gators eventually decided to answer in kind, and their athleticism was simply too much for the Razorbacks to overcome.

Exceptional efforts: Florida’s best player was again its best player as sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson hit 4 of 7 shots and 15 of 17 free throws for a game-high 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season and third in the last four games. Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard came on late to finish with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting with seven boards and four assists, though he did have five turnovers. Lewis was not a huge scorer but impacted the game with seven points and seven rebounds while playing an astounding 38 of 40 minutes. Sophomore G Noah Locke helped build the Gators’ huge advantage beyond the arc, draining 3 of 4 threes in the game. He is 14 of 22 (.636) from downtown over the last three games.

Odds and ends: UF was assessed a technical foul for a clear flop that was actually reviewed by the officials (see below) … there were 40 fouls called in as many game minutes … Florida won the rebounding battle 36-26 (28-15 defensive), but Arkansas had the edge in paint scoring 14-8 … the Gators led for 38:16, including the entire second half, while the Hogs only had a temporary advantage early for 27 seconds … Florida improved to 26-12 all-time against Arkansas, including 14-2 in the O’Dome and 8-1 under head coach Mike White

What it means: The most important development on Tuesday night was Florida’s ability to fight back after it got punched in the mouth. Nearly blowing a 19-point lead is tough to stomach, but the Gators never actually lost their advantage and turned on the jets in the game’s final minutes to pull away for their third straight double-digit victory. Will this provide the team with some confidence as it heads into consecutive tough games against the top teams in the SEC over the next eight days? White better hope so.

What’s next? Florida will hit the road to face No. 10 Kentucky on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in a game that will air live on ESPN. The Wildcats swept the Gators last season by an average victory margin of 10 points.

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