Gators outlast Tide in 66-63 thriller
NEW ORLEANS – The Gators blew a 12-point second-half lead and led by just two with 20.3 seconds remaining when the Crimson Tide’s JaMychal Green stepped to the line for a pair of free throws.
He made the first, but missed the second and Kenny Boynton drained two free throws after Brad Beal pulled down the rebound to give the Gators a three-point lead with 9.8 seconds left.
Trevor Lacey got free from behind the arc for the Tide and launched a deep three-pointer for the tie as the game clock wore down. It clanged off the front iron to seal a 66-63 Florida (23-9, 10-6 SEC) win over Alabama (21-11, 9-7 SEC), earning the Gators an SEC Tournament rematch with No. 1 Kentucky.
“Coach said in the huddle when he shot it, if he missed and it was a long rebound, try to run out to the three-point line and guard a guy,” junior power forward Erik Murphy said. “I just looked for Green and tried to box him out and make sure he didn’t get an offensive rebound. Everybody blocked out and we came away with a win.”
Florida struggled offensively for much of the game despite good ball movement, settling for 30 three-point attempts while taking just 22 two-point shots.
The Gators finished shooting 38.5 percent from the floor and just 33.3 percent from three, but their 10 made three-pointers were enough to eke out a win and snap a three-game losing streak.
“Ten threes. Greatest equalizer in college basketball,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We made seven more than they did, that was the difference in the game.”
Alabama controlled the action in the paint, and Patric Young failed to follow up his great game against Kentucky with another good performance. He fouled out to give Green a chance to tie it with his free throws late in the game and ended with just six points and five rebounds.
The Crimson Tide scored 38 points in the paint. Green finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds and helped put both Young and Cody Larson in foul trouble, which forced the Gators to play a four-guard lineup for an extended amount of time.
Senior point guard Erving Walker helped Florida break out in front again after Alabama tied the game at 28 early in the second half.
Walker made a layup and a short jumper before kicking out to sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin for an open three. Walker hit a three-pointer seconds later to put Florida up 38-30.
“Florida did a good job attacking the paint and just finding the open guy and making the extra pass,” Alabama guard Trevor Releford said. “Erv, he had it going and he started looking for his teammates and it opened things up.”
The Crimson Tide fought back in the second half with a 13-4 run, tying the game at 51 with 6:03 remaining. However, a couple costly fouls on the perimeter allowed Florida to jump back in front for good.
Kenny Boynton was fouled on a three from the left side of the floor, and he sank all three to give Florida the lead. Moments later, Scottie Wilbekin made a three from the right side despite getting fouled to put Florida up 57-51.
“When you have a stretch there where Scottie makes a three, Kenny Boynton gets fouled, now all the sudden it’s a six-point swing from a tie score on two possessions,” Donovan said. “You can sometimes overcome a tough defensive night if you make a lot of threes and the other team doesn’t.”
The Gators got a strong performance from freshman guard Brad Beal, who nicked up his ankle in the Kentucky game on Sunday. Beal said the ankle is at 100 percent after he was able to rest for a few days in practice early in the week.
He finished with a team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the win and pulled down the key rebound off Green’s costly missed free throw.
Fourth-seeded Florida will return to action at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday against top-seeded Kentucky. The Gators lost both regular season matchups against the Wildcats, including a 74-59 home loss on Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to playing them,” Murphy said. “It’ll basically be a road game, but we already played at Rupp. We’ve just got to execute our game plan. We’ll get together tonight as a team and go over what we’re trying to do against them.”
1 Comment so far
Billy has a habit of taking players out of the game when they have the hot hand. I can understand yanking players when they go cold, but taking players out when they have drained two 3s in a row just seems to be completely counter productive.
Beal was taken out of the game after hitting 2 3s and a bunch of other positive stuff, and his game was never the same afterward.
Perhaps there is some sought of coaching philosophical reason for such strategies, but I think going with the hot hand is what will help in a survive and advance competition.
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2014 Football Commits
|Davidson (NC) Day|
|Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar|
|Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County|
|Jacksonville (Fla). Raines|
|Deland (Fla.) High|
|New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine|
|Miami (Fla.) Central|
|Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas|
2013 Basketball Commits
|Clermont (Fla.) Montverde Academy|
|Bonifay (Fla) Holmes County|
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