Appleby Buzzer Beater Lifts Gators to 71-68 Win

In a game that had a second weekend of the NCAA Tournament feel Tyree Appleby called game, hitting a deep three from just over the half court line to win the game at the buzzer by a score of 71-68. Following a missed jumper from Ohio State star EJ Liddell (forced by great on ball defense from Anthony Duruji) the Gators pushed in transition with Appleby getting a chance at the win. He rose up with confidence and swished it from 32 feet, the kind of game winner that every player dreams of having. In winning, the Gators were crowned champions of the Fort Myers Tip Off and have a major resume boosting win. 

 

Finding A Way

 

Florida’s offense was not at all crisp on Wednesday, particularly in the first half where they couldn’t get anything to fall whether in the paint or from behind the arc. Ultimately they scored only 26 points in the first, and it didn’t look like things would go much better in the second. However, they scratched, they clawed, and they generated points by getting steals, fighting on the offensive glass, and sprinting in transition. Florida ended the game shooting 36.7% from the field and 28.6% from three, so the fact they were able to win against a good opponent even when they weren’t playing well offensively speaks to the toughness of the team.

 

Boost Off The Bench

 

Phlandrous Fleming was Florida’s leading scorer in this one with 19 points off the bench. He has been a major energy boost as the Gators’ first sub and he was awfully effective against Ohio State, mostly by getting to the rim and getting layups or drawing fouls. He is a player who thrives in these kinds of situations–games that are physical and played in the trenches–and you can tell that when the Gators get to postseason play he’ll be a key performer. 

 

Confident Coaching

 

When Myreon Jones came down with the rebound following EJ Liddell’s attempt at a go-ahead jumper there was around 5 seconds on the clock, and the Gators didn’t have numbers or forward momentum. Mike White had timeouts at his disposal but chose not to use them, instead allowing the Gators to push. Jones got it to Tyree Appleby, and he drilled a game winner. This was confident coaching by White to not call a timeout, and the decision paid off. If he had called a timeout, the Gators would have had to go down the floor against a set defense, something that can be very difficult in a late game setting. By allowing the Gators to play it out, Appleby probably got a better look than one that could have been generated out of a time out. 

 

Creating Chaos

 

Ohio State ended the game with 18 turnovers, something that was ultimately their demise. They actually shot 53.2% from the field, a fantastic number, but there were plenty of times they couldn’t get those shots off because the Gators were taking the ball from them. Phlandrous Fleming led the Gators with 4 steals while CJ Felder (who also had a fantastic game) had 3. Florida’s aggressiveness defensively remains their strength and it allowed them to come away with a win on a night where they didn’t play their best basketball.

 

Final Thoughts

 

It always feels incredible for a team to get a win when they weren’t playing their best basketball and that’s what the Gators get to feel. They scratched and clawed for everything they got and they now get to reap the rewards for their hard work. Ohio State is a talented, physical basketball team and the Gators now have some great experience and a big resume win under their belt.

 

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.