With whistle after whistle dictating who Florida could have on the floor and with some timely non-calls in South Carolina’s favor the Gators fell to Gamecocks by a score of 71-69 with the winning bucket being a Chris Silva dunk with less than 3 seconds left on the clock off a inbounds pass coming full court from under South Carolina’s basket. After Kevarrius Hayes tied the game at 69 with a free throw Felipe Haase threw the ball down court as far as he could and a two-handed shove from Silva to Hayes’ back went uncalled, allowing him to take an easy game-winning dunk. When the game went from the referees calling everything to them swallowing their whistles it heavily benefitted South Carolina and the Gators ended up dropping a game and gaining a home loss that will look ugly on their resume.
Early foul kept pretty much every key Gator off the floor in the first half and resulted in heavy minutes for Dontay Bassett and Isaiah Stokes off the bench. Bassett was on the wrong side of a few of the worst calls in the game, first being a blocking foul he committed on Chris Silva that looked a whole lot like a charge. It would have been an early 4th foul for him that I didn’t think the refs wanted to give out, so instead Bassett was punished. Then, he was the victim of a clear hook and hold that should have been two shots and the ball for the Gators but was instead downgraded to a common foul without explanation. Also the victim of many offensive chicken wing hooks by Silva to free himself on the block, Bassett had a rough game.
Hassani Gravett was incredible for the Gamecocks with timely shots to keep them in the game and then some even bigger shots when the game was tight at the end. He had 22 points on 7-11 shooting and was getting to his spots of the floor at will. If it wasn’t for his amazing play in the first half the Gators may have been able to dig the Gamecocks into a deeper hole but Gravett kept them in it and deserves a ton of credit. Noah Locke lead the way for the Gators with 17 points but after a hot shooting first half he was cold in the second. I’m not sure what it is with him but he has had a lot of games where he has started hot and then been quiet in the second, a trend the Gators could have used him to break out of tonight.
Florida’s offensive struggles continue to center around the fact that they really struggle to get the ball into the paint. Of course, that was amplified tonight against a South Carolina team that’s excellent at protecting the paint and by the fact the Gators had major foul trouble, but they’ll have to keep searching for ways to get the ball going towards the tin.
The Gators could have used a breakout performance from Jalen Hudson tonight but they didn’t get it as he went 2-8 from the field for 8 points. He definitely got tunnel vision a few times and couldn’t make some easy passes that could have resulted in open shots but he did look decent in Florida’s three-quarter court pressure and if he can defend better he’ll earn more minutes.
This is a really bad loss for the Gators, currently far and away their worst by the metrics. I think the officiating played a big, nay, a MASSIVE role in this one and let’s just say it didn’t favor the home team, but now the Gators will have to steal a game they shouldn’t win in the SEC slate. It’s a brutal way to start the conference portion of the season but it isn’t the end of the world.