Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

By Adam Silverstein
December 5, 2014

No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (3-4) absolutely collapsed in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, blowing an 18-point lead and falling 71-65 to the No. 11/11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) in the 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The Gators are now under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998. breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: The biggest scoring stretch of the game – a 23-3 run with 18 points combined by Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. – included four Florida turnovers and the visitors going 1-for-10 from the field; it lasted 7:53 and gave Kansas a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to play. Overall, the Jayhawks outscored the Gators by 21 points in the second half with UF at one point failing to hit a field goal for 7:37.

Significant stretches: With the Gators leading by a game-high 18 points, the Jayhawks got right back in the contest with a 9-0 run that cut KU’s deficit to single digits with about 14 minutes left in the game. It allowed Kansas to hang in long enough to end the game with its incredible scoring stretch as Florida melted down at Allen Fieldhouse.

Prominent players: A pair of young forwards – freshman Devin Robinson and sophomore Chris Walker – each registered career-highs in points scored with 13 and 12, respectively. The duo was also Florida’s top two leading scorers and rebounders (five boards each) on the evening with Walker going 5-for-6 from the field. Kansas was led by Selden, who finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Alexander registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.

First half focus: Trailing by four early, Florida took off on a 14-0 run including four-straight points by Walker back-to-back threes from redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith and junior guard Michael Frazier II. Kansas missed five consecutive shots and committed four turnovers as it suddenly found itself down by 10. A 9-0 UF scoring stretch – including four more points by Walker and a trey from Robinson – pushed the visitors ahead 35-18 with 3:20 to play until the half, but KU hit a layup at the buzzer to trail 39-24 at the break.

Standout stat: The Gators looked to have finally found some offensive rhythm in the first half, but it all disappeared over the latter 20 minutes of the contest. Florida made just one field goal over a span of 10:25 in the second half, allowing Kansas to fight all the way back from an 18-point deficit. UF entered the latter period +7 on the boards but ended the game -8 with KU outrebounding its visitors 24-9 after the break.

What it means: The Gators have fallen below .500 on the season (for the first time since 1998) and will be completely out of both top 25 polls – perhaps not even receiving votes in either – come Monday. Florida also failed to make the offensive strides that head coach Billy Donovan had hoped to see, especially coming out of a full week of practice.

Next up: UF will host Yale on Monday at 7:00 p.m. after the Bulldogs pulled off a 45-44 upset over UConn on Friday evening.

Everything else: Freshman point guard Kasey Hill regressed offensively (2-for-9) but registered a team-high eight assists with just two turnovers … Finney-Smith and Frazier combined to go 7-for-18 from the field for 17 points … every Florida player finished negative in the +/- with Frazier earning a team-worst -10 for the evening … despite the back-and-forth nature of the game, there were only two ties and two lead changes in the contest … UF led for 25:03 on Friday with KU leading for just 11:48


  1. Ken (CA) says:

    What a shame. What a brilliant first half. The lack of depth is telling,same thing against Miami. Everything being bricked against the front of the iron or short in the 2nd half. You just can’t play 7 on 10-12 against quality teams.

    This team really showed that it has the ability to be very good, it is just so depleted. I don’t know how much difference Alex Murphy will make when he is eligible, but not having Carter along with Doe Doe not 100% is just huge. Hopefully the committee will take these early season issues into account and we will win enough games moving forward to get consideration. Even with light numbers, we have shown we can hang with quality teams, so our seeding isn’t hugely relevant as long as we are able to get the golden ticket. Of course, I prefer a higher seed to a lower one!

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Chris Walker is better than he seems partly because we won’t get him the ball inside. Been watching that from Billy D. teams for years. Walker always beats his man down the court, he’s almost always open on the pick and roll to the hoop, and he’s always getting inside position only to have our guards look at him blankly before passing the ball to the next guy standing around the 3 point line.

    Like Dickie V said: “Getting the ball to the post is a lost art.” Today’s guards don’t understand inside position. . they think if a guy is standing next to the big man, then he must not be open.

    Yeah, we had some nice drive-and-dishes in the 1st half, but come crunch time, if you want to beat a Billy D. coached team, just extend your man-to-man defense out beyond the 3 point line because they will never make you pay for that by attacking the post. We have never attacked the post.

    We will always live and die by the jumpshot, without any inside toughness. I hate soft basketball.

    But I disagree that Walker is overrated. He’s just in the wrong system.

    • Gatoralum88 says:

      My problem with all the “5*” hype about Walker is that it seems strictly based on the facts that he’s long, fast, & can jump…& not based on any sort of basketball ability. He’s a 6’10” guy with NO post moves…& really hasn’t shown he can shoot. Meanwhile, Duke’s Okafor looks like a 6’10” ballerina!…he’s what consider a “5*”. I do agree our guards should look more his way on breaks because he runs like a deer & would probably make some show-stopping dunks. He’s definitely a work in progress &, on the bright side, getting better. Go Gators!

  3. Gatoralum88 says:

    That first half was BEAUTIFUL!…making the extra pass every time…finding the open man…being aggressive & getting after them! Then, that 2nd half was akin to Muschamp ball!…as if they were intentionally taking 30 seconds off the clock every possession & just trying to hang on…which never works. Also, will someone please tell Horford to easy up on the 3’s???- & please focus more on rebounding & put backs!…& Billy needs to smack Hill around for a while until it sinks into him that he MUST be more assertive offensively!

    No depth is definitely killing them right now. Murphy’s arrival can’t get here soon enough but I’m starting to think Carter’s foot sprain may linger. Otherwise, they seem to have all the pieces necessary to be a tough team to beat. If they’ll ever come together at the same time is anyone’s guess but they’ll have 3 months to get there. Robinson & Walker seem to be improving which is great. Next up: Who thought Yale (off road upset of UConn) would be a team they could possibly lose to?…the Gators better bring their A game. Go Gators!

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