With four seconds left in regulation Jarvis Summers went to the free throw line for two shots with an opportunity to give Ole Miss the lead. He did just that.
Florida, with a chance for a heroic game-winner, handed the ball to point guard Kasey Hill, who ran up the court and couldn’t get off a shot on time, attempting to get to the basket and try a layup as time expired.
The result, the Ole Miss Rebels (12-7, 3-3 SEC) defeated the Florida Gators (10-9, 3-3 SEC) 72-71 at the C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday night to hand the Gators their third straight defeat.
Florida’s path to defeat started back in the second half when Ole Miss went on a 13-0 run to earn a 56-43 lead and made three 3-pointers over a span of 1:30. That would keep the game close for the rest of regulation.
The Gators decided to take the game to the free throw line at the end of the game against the nation’s best at the charity stripe and failed to execute.
“Kasey’s got to get the ball to the glass. Three and half seconds to the length of the floor from where he was, he needs to at least read the clock, pull up and take a shot,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He needs to at least give us a chance there and to have the clock run out without getting a shot up was disappointing.”
The Rebels were able to play to their strengths of driving to the basket and forcing Florida to foul. Ole Miss would convert 16-of-19 free throws while Florida went 15-of-24, including crucial misses by Dorian Finney-Smith in the final two minutes.
Florida was able to contain Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody to just six points on 2-of-10 shooting, but the Rebels had other weapons in store for Billy Donovan’s bunch. Summers (16), LaDarius White (13) Terence Smith (11) and Dwight Coleby (10) were the four Rebels in double-figures to guide their team back to victory.
In his finest performance of the season, Michael Frazier II scored a game and season-high 27 points on 7-of-11 shooting and netted six 3-pointers. He also collected five rebounds in the losing effort. Joining Frazier was Finney-Smith who added 15 points and four 3-pointers before fouling out in the last seconds, which gave Ole Miss the lead at the free throw line.
The duo accounted for 42 of the Gators 71 points, or, 60 percent of the team’s offense.
Florida has now loss three consecutive games and the last time the Gators went on a skid of three losses was back in December of 2012.
“The thing that is discouraging for me is when you look at it, I thought our guys fought and compete, but this is a really good game on a standpoint of realizing what little margin for error we actually have,” Donovan said.
Florida remains on the road for their next SEC match up against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday before coming back to Gainesville for a home contest on Saturday versus Arkansas.