It was apparent from the tip that this game between the Florida Gators (10-6, 2-2 SEC) and the Texas A&M Aggies (14-2, 3-0 SEC) was going to be a close one. It came down to the end, but the Aggies were able to take the win in College Station, Texas on Tuesday night.
The game started out with the Gators sending the Aggies to the charity stripe, a trend that stuck throughout the first half. Florida had zero trips to the free throw line, whereas A&M went 6-11.
Chris Chiozza emerged as the player of the half as the leading scorer for the Gators with 8 points. Brandone Francis-Ramirez finally made a basket from downtown ending a drought of 20 straight misses from beyond the arc.
Florida got into foul trouble early with five fouls in the first five minutes and totaled 11 personal fouls in contrast to the Aggies 5 in the first half alone. It didn’t give A&M too much of an advantage, however, seeing as they ended up with only a five-point lead at halftime at 33-28.
Coming back from the half, Florida was looking to cut down TAMU’s lead immediately with a three-pointer from Justin Leon. However, the Aggies were not ready to let the Gators make a run and came back with a layup to keep the gap in the score at 35-31 with 18:44 to go.
From there the Gators slowly but surely clipped down the Aggies’ lead until they got the game tied up at 40 after a trey from Finney-Smith with 16:28 to go. However, this seemed to be a trend, as Texas A&M got away from them again as high as a five-point lead before they met at a tie again. The second tie was at 47 points with 13:55 left.
Just when it looked like Florida had a chance to come back, they ended up in a scoring drought that lasted over five minutes. This allowed TAMU to get as high as a 10-point lead.
It seemed like it was over for Florida then, but they were able to come back and nip down the Aggies lead. They got it down to just one point with 25 seconds left on the clock after another three from Finney-Smith.
Making those baskets allowed Dorian to come out with his third double-double of the season, ending up with team highs with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Leon also made an impression on the scoreboard with a career-high 16 points and four rebounds.
In order to save themselves some time and stop the clock, they gave the Aggies another trip to the charity stripe, which did not work out in their favor. TAMU’s Collins made two free throws that put them back at a three point deficit with 22 seconds remaining.
Chris Chiozza was not ready to let the game get away from them, and made a jumper with just 11 seconds left. They were in the same position as they were just 14 seconds earlier, and they did the same thing. The Aggies went to the line and made two free throws after a screen foul was called on John Egbunu.
With 4 seconds on the clock, TAMU turned over the basketball into the quick hands of Chris Chiozza who went for the long three that would tie the game and send it into overtime, but he was off the mark and missed the final basket of the game.
The Florida Gators lost by just three points at 71-68, making for their second SEC loss and kept the Texas A&M Aggies undefeated in conference play.
The Florida Gators basketball team will stay on the road for their next game as they travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss—Mike White’s alma mater—on Saturday the 16th. Tip off is set for 8pm on ESPN2 and as always join GatorCountry.com to follow along for full updates and coverage.