After tolerating the pain of hairline fractures in his index and middle fingers since the season-opener, Dorian Finney-Smith isn’t letting the injury affecting him any longer.
The junior forward scored a career-high 25 points on five three-pointers while Michael Frazier II added 22 points in the Florida Gators (7-4) 79-34 rout of the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-9) Sunday afternoon in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators are currently on a three-game winning streak.
Finney-Smith led all scorers after shooting 10-15 from the field to eclipse his previous career-high of 22 versus Arkansas on Jan. 1 of last season. He would snag six rebounds in the career effort.
“It feels real good. You know my teammates did a good job of finding me when I was open,” Finney-Smith said. “We moved the ball and tonight was just my night.”
Early in the season, the injury limited the junior in practice and caused him to miss games against Miami and Louisiana-Monroe. While the fractures still cause trouble, Finney-Smith is focused on contributing to the team’s success.
“I couldn’t do things that I usually do as in rebounding, can’t go up with two hands, but like I said I don’t have an excuse,” Finney-Smith said. “I played, so I’m on the court. I have no excuse, just hopefully [we] keep getting better and we keep winning.”
By far, you can say this was Florida’s best second half of the season. The early warm-ups prior to the second half has prepared the team better for closing out games and as a result, it has turned into their best play of the season.
The Gators held the Dolphins to just 14 percent shooting and 10 points in the second half as Florida mounted nearly 70 percent shooting and finished a 45-point margin of victory, their largest this season.
“It’s good to get everyone warmed up and engaged and ready so when it’s time to play, it’s not like we’re spending the first five minutes of the half warming up. We’re ready to go,” center Jon Horford said, who added 12 points and eight rebounds, of Florida’s second half motives.
The second half has been one of the biggest factors for Florida in the last three games. The Gators have started those halves with the lead and kept adding to that margin to close out games the proper way – the winning way.
Florida has now shot above 50 percent from the floor in the last three games.
Frazier II added to the mix offensively netting a season-best 22 points and six treys, which tied him for seventh all-time at UF for 3-pointers. Frazier has now scored in double figures in all of the team’s 11 games this season.
“It was good to see him (Frazier II) make some shots in the second half,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He got out in the passing lane, got a steal and a dunk and knocked down a three. He did some really, really good things.”
Above all, the Gators have made a significant turn around since the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, shooting the best percentages and closing out games for victories.
Florida now has a week off before their Orange Bowl Classic match-up against Wake Forest in Sunrise. According to Donovan, forward Alex Murphy may be eligible, depending if the university releases semester grades prior to Saturday’s game.
Although demolishing their opponents this week, the greatest thing for the Gators was to see one of their leading scorers perform at his best.
“I would say the one guy I thought elevated our team in the second half in particular was Doe-Doe (Finney-Smith),” Donovan said. “I really like where his focus level was and his energy was in the game.”