In their first game of the SEC tournament against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team took a 68-61 win and will continue on in the tournament.
The first half moved at a glacial pace as the first basket was not made until three minutes into the game. It did not pick up much from there as two more minutes passed and the score stood at just 4-2 in favor of Arkansas with 15:21 to go in the first half.
It wasn’t until after the first media timeout that Arkansas was able to come out with a quick slam-dunk by Moses Kingsley, which prompted Gator head coach Mike White to call a timeout and get his team under control. Whatever white said must have spoken to Devin Robinson and Kasey Hill, as Robinson shot off a trey and Hill followed up with a layup. With 12:25 before halftime, Florida now had a one-point lead over Arkansas at 7-6.
The Gators’ half-court defense and rebounding effort managed to keep the Razorback’s shooters from taking them on a run. However, Arkansas’ defense was strong in the paint and forced Florida to take shots from the perimeter.
By the under-eight media timeout the game had only made it to a tie of 13 after another trey from Robinson. At this point in the game, DRob accounted for six of the Gators’ 13 points.
From there, the game tied four more times over the next four minutes to end with a 20-20 tie with 3:44 on the first half clock. At this point Florida had five turnovers compared to Arkansas’ three. In the Gators’ last game against Mizzou they had just seven turnovers total.
Despite those turnovers and trials on defense, the Gators managed to go on a little 4-0 run to finally take them more than one basket away from another tie. Florida held on to the lead to end the half with a jumper by Hill to give the Gators a six-point lead at 29-23. The half ended with Hill having 8 points and 2 assists, Robinson and KeVaughn Allen with 6 points each and John Egbunu with 5 points and six rebounds.
Coming back from the half, the Razorbacks cut down the Gators lead to four with a quick layup from Anthlon Bell. However, Florida was not ready to let this game get back to yet another tie and managed to pull away to a lead of 9 points after a three-ball from Chris Chiozza with 18:30 to play.
Over the next two minutes the Gators adapted to the Hogs defense and got comfortable behind the arc as they dished out two more treys from Allen and Dorian Finney-Smith. Florida now sat at an 11-point lead over Arkansas with 16:22 to go.
UF managed to hold on to a good lead over the Razorbacks until Dusty Hannahs made five straight points within thirty seconds to bring Arkansas within four points of the lead with 5:55 before the final buzzer. The Gators managed to pull away again to a seven-point lead after an Egbunu slam, with his torn ligament in his thumb, no less.
Despite the effort the Gators were pushing out, the Hogs still managed to cut down the lead to just a one point deficit with 1:07 on the clock. A quick layup by Hill put Florida back up with a three-point lead with under a minute to go. Dorian Finney-Smith sealed the deal with two free throws to put them up by five points with just over 20 seconds on the clock.
Devin Robinson put the exclamation point on the game with a decisive dunk to put Florida up by seven with 13 seconds to go. The game looked over, but Arkansas’ Hannahs refused to go down easy and tossed up a layup with 5 seconds to go.
Even with less than five seconds on the clock, the game did not end as Allen got sent to the free throw line to put up two more points for the Gators. The game finally ended with a final score of 68-61 to push Florida forward in the SEC tourney.