By: Jenna Ladd
In a season full of adversity, the Florida Gators basketball team has found themselves falling short once again, making for a four-game losing skid.
The story of this season has been inconsistency mixed with good, but just not good enough with their last four losses being decided by seven points or less.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself during Saturday’s game against the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas when Florida (12-13, 5-7 SEC) fell to Texas A&M (17-7, 8-4 SEC) in another close one, 63-62. This was just a different game, but the same story for Florida where they put up a fight but can’t finish off with a win.
For once, this was a game where Florida did not allow the Aggies’ early success to determine the ballgame, stealing the momentum at the end of the first half. The team had a lot of good looks and tried to optimize their opportunities, but just could not make the final baskets to send them back to Gainesville with a victory.
The Gators’ heads have been hanging low after each game, wondering when they will pull themselves out of the pity pit. Billy Donovan keeps reiterating that the players are seeing these results because they are playing for themselves instead of for the team. That is combined with a lot of the younger players being inconsistent with weak work ethics.
With Frazier still being out with his high-ankle sprain, the Gators did not have the odds on their side without their leading scorer. However, in a twist of fate, Chris Walker stepped up for Florida and became a valuable offensive and defensive asset against A&M.
Walker, the player Billy keeps identifying as one with a struggling work ethic, proved that he was capable of making an impact on the team going 4-for-4 from the field and with four blocks.
Eli Carter made an impression as he started against the Aggies, scoring a season-high 22 points to lead the Gators scoreboard. As usual, Dorian Finney-Smith contributed a good deal offensively with 11 points and defensively raking in seven rebounds.
The game got interesting in the last six minutes of the game when Jacob Kurtz hit back-to-back baskets for the Gators to close in within eight points of the Aggies’ game-long lead. Florida was able to pull off of those baskets to gain enough momentum and gain the lead at 62-61 with just 1:39 left on the clock.
In the final minutes of the game fans were getting whiplash with back-and-forth possessions, resulting in a nail-biter ending – as usual. At least the Gators provide great entertainment with their close finishes, but Florida fans started to lose hope after they gave up easy points to A&M with two free throws.
Jalen Jones ended up draining both of those free throws for the Aggies and those points ended up being the last ones scored for the game at 1:12. Florida followed those shots with a solid drive, but they could not connect the ball to the basket as Murphy missed his first of two game-deciding baskets.
Florida got the ball once again with 5.3 second on the clock with the opportunity to have the same finish as Ole Miss did over Florida on Thursday. However, this was when Murphy missed his second vital three-point basket to give up yet another close win to the Texas A&M Aggies.
The final score of the game had just a one-point difference at 63-62, but sadly this is not anything new for Florida as seven (now eight) of their losses have been decided by 2 points or less.
This team will rally up to overcome adversity once again as they take on Vanderbilt Wednesday, February 18 at 7:00 p.m. at home in the O’Dome.