In a hard matchup up with the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, the Florida Gators basketball team (6-3) fought hard in a close loss to the undefeateed Michigan State Spartans (11-0) at 58-52.
Florida had four players in double-digits (Devin Robinson, Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza and Dorian Finney-Smith) and Devin Robinson was just one rebound shy of another double-double which would have made his fourth this season. John Egbunu, who has been a huge contributor this season, was only able to put in seven minutes on Saturday night before fouling out with no points.
The game started off with a 5-0 run by Michigan State, but Florida refused to let them pull away with the Spartans biggest lead of the half being 7 points. However, both teams struggled offensively during the first half with Florida going 9-32 from the field and Michigan State went 9-29.
Florida’s defense is what kept them in the game as they forced nine turnovers within the first period. However, they were outrebounded and outscored. Despite the stats and odds being against them, the Gators were able to trim down the Spartan lead to just 2 points to end the half at 27-25.
Unfortunately for the Gators, the Spartans came back from the locker room with a fire under them. Just nine seconds into the second half of the game Bryn Forbes drove the ball down the court for an uncontested layup.
Just as it looked like Michigan State was about to take off on a run, Chris Chiozza worked to stop them with a jumper to put the Gators back within two points at 27-29 with 18:40 left to play.
Chiozza was also the first person to make a shot from downtown for the Gators in the entire game, but he wasn’t going to stop there. He went on to make two more three pointers-combined with a slam by Devin Robinson-to tie the game up at 38 with 14:06 left in the game.
Michigan State started to pull away, not allowing Florida to take the lead with back-to-back jumpers. Yet, Florida was not ready to let this game go without a fight and with a free throw by Justin Leon followed by a three-point play from Kasey Hill tied the game at 42 with 11:05 remaining.
The tables finally turned against the Spartans when Dorian Finney-Smith drilled down a basket from behind the arc that put the Gators up by 3-and their first lead of the game-with 9:52 on the clock.
From there, the lead bounced back and forth until it settled in the home team’s hands after a jumper from Matt Costello with 6:50 left in the half that put the Spartans in the lead at 48-47.
The Gators refused to let the Spartans win this game without fighting them for it. Florida attempted to trim down their lead with a layup from Hill with :55 to go, but they just couldn’t pull off the upset.
The unranked Florida Gators made a statement with their performance against the no. 1 Michigan State Spartans, but just could not finish out the very end of the game and had to take home a close 6-point loss.
Florida will have a week to regroup before taking on Oklahoma State in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday, December 19th at 8 p.m.