Florida basketball score, takeaways: Mizzou wins on last-second shot as Gators falter at home

By Jake Winderman
March 3, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Mizzou wins on last-second shot as Gators falter at home
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball (13-7, 9-6) was unable to take care of business Wednesday night at home, falling 72-70 at the last second to the Missouri Tigers (15-7, 8-7 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. Despite outshooting Mizzou, it was 15 first-half turnovers by Florida that led to additional field goal opportunities for the Tigers and the Gators’ eventual demise.

The win gave Missouri its first-ever victory in Gainesville and prevented Florida from clinching a top four seed and double bye in the SEC Tournament, which it was looking to achieve with a victory in either of its final two regular-season games.

What went down in Wednesday night’s barnburner in the O’Dome. Find out more in our Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … Mizzou guard Dru Smith hit a go-ahead layup to give Missouri a two-point lead with 0.7 seconds left. Florida battled back from an eight-point deficit at the 2:25 mark with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 70 with 17.2 seconds remaining. The Gators were unable to get a stop on the Tigers’ final possession as Smith cut to the hoop without much in his way and hit a reverse layup for the eventual win. Florida didn’t get a shot off on its final possession. Smith finished with a team-high 17 points, nine assists, three rebounds and six steals.

First half focus: If I told you Florida outshot Missouri by 11% in the first 20 minutes, you’d probably think the Gators had a big lead entering the locker room, right? Wrong. UF had a season-high 15 turnovers in the first half alone, leading to 18 points for Mizzou. The Tigers held a 36-29 lead at halftime, outscoring Florida 15-4 over the final 6:35. The Gators had more turnovers in the first half than they did in 11 total games this season. That led to 11 more field goal attempts for the visitors.

Exceptional efforts: Despite the losing effort, sophomore point guard Tre Mann was phenomenal once again, dropping a game-high 21 points on 9 of 11 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. When Mann plays like the assertive, savvy floor general he was projected to be out of high school, he can be the best player on the floor on any given night. Mann has now scored 20+ points in a team-leading three games this season and is averaging 20.3 points and eight rebounds over Florida’s past three contests.

Redshirt junior forward Anthony Duruji helped Florida combat Missouri’s distinct size advantage, grabbing a career-high (at UF) 11 boards with a steal and block. While the Louisiana Tech transfer only scored two points, they came on a ferocious dunk that got the (limited) O’Dome crowd off of its feet.

Tyree Appleby had a team-leading five turnovers, all of which came in the first half, but he was an instrumental part of Florida’s second-half comeback. The redshirt junior guard posted 11 points (eight in the latter period) with five rebounds and five assists. Appleby is always going to play fast, and he gives the Gators another gear they haven’t had at the position since Chris Chiozza. He just needs to be a little bit tighter with the rock in his hands sometimes.

Odds and ends: Florida lost just its third game of the season when scoring 70+ points (13-3) … the Gators are now 6-7 when allowing 70+ points … UF allowed an opponent to shoot 41% or better from three for the fifth time this season (2-3) … Florida lost its first game this season when shooting 43% or better from the field (13-1) … junior forward Colin Castleton had three rebounds, just the sixth time this season he’s had three or fewer boards … all 10 of Castleton’s points came in the second half … junior guard Noah Locke went 3 of 4 from three in the first half, then scored just two points in the second half to finish with 11 … the Gators are now 7-4 all-time against the Tigers, 4-1 in the O’Dome

What it means: Florida’s two-point loss to Missouri drops the Gators to 3-3 in Quadrant II opportunities. The rest of UF’s resume includes a 5-3 record in Quadrant I games, a 4-1 record in Quadrant III games and a 1-0 record in Quadrant IV games. The Gators couldn’t get the defensive stop they needed late, though they had the momentum if the game went to overtime.

Turnovers have been a major issue for Florida, and they were a wet blanket Wednesday night. The lack of discipline with the basketball gave Missouri 18 more shots attempts and likely made the difference in the game. Florida looked like a completely different team in the second half, limiting itself to just three turnovers, but the first 20 minutes were damaging enough to plague the Gators emotionally the rest of the way. There’s no “almost wins” in the NCAA Tournament, and Florida got a taste of what would produce an early exit in March Madness.

What’s next? UF will wrap up its regular season on the road at Tennessee on Sunday. This is a makeup for a postponed game originally scheduled on Feb. 10. The Gators upset the Volunteers 75-49 back on Jan. 19.

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