Florida State’s Devon Bookert put up a prayer with three seconds left in the game tied at 63. Bookert’s shot fell short off the front rim, but Florida’s Jacob Kurtz, while going up to secure the rebound, accidentally tipped the ball in before time expired. Game over.
The Florida State Seminoles (8-5) defeated their rival Florida Gators (7-5) 65-63 on Tuesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee to snap a five-year losing streak against UF.
Kurtz ended up putting the Gators in position to tie the game by hustling to an offensive rebound after a missed 3-point attempt by Devin Robinson. Kurtz passed it to Kasey Hill who dished it to Dorian Finney-Smith who made a lay up and the Gators were about to force overtime.
Instead, the most devastating defeat of the season unfolded on an accidental own goal tip-in that left 0.4 on the game clock with a Gators last desperate failed attempt.
“We wouldn’t have even been in position to win without him (Kurtz),” Michael Frazier II said who scored 11 points. “We didn’t lose on just one play.”
As head coach Billy Donovan has mentioned before, Kurtz being the one player on the team that actually gets what goes into winning and hustling on every play ended up accidently handing the Gators their fifth loss of the season and snap a four-game winning streak.
“From my vantage point, I just saw him going for the ball,” Kasey Hill said, who lead Gators scorers with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. “He was trying to make a play.”
Leading up to the horrid ending, both the Gators and Seminoles played a sloppy game with both teams committing 15 or more turnovers and shot under 25 percent from 3-point range.
Florida recorded their second-lowest point total by halftime with 24 points trailing at the half. The Gators lowest of the season was 23 points against UNC.
“Too many careless turnovers that we didn’t need,” Hill said.
This loss drops the Gators this season to 1-3 in games decided by five points or less. Other losses came from Miami and Georgetown game winners.
Florida moves ahead to their last non-conference game of the season on Saturday when they host the UConn Huskies, a team that defeated the Gators on a buzzer beater last season.
Until then, Florida will be mentally haunted by a defeat you’re likely to never see again.
“If it weren’t for Jake we wouldn’t have been in the game,” Donovan said. “I felt bad. He tried to make the right play.”