FINAL: TEXAS TECH 69, FLORIDA 66
Dallas, TX– This is what Egor Koulechov was brought to Florida for. The opportunity to tie the game as the clock is running out in the NCAA Tournament. Koulechov had the look Saturday night.
Florida’s senior point guard Chris Chiozza brought the Gators within a three of tying the game with a quick layup with 26 seconds remaining. The Gators forced Texas Tech star Keenan Evans into a turnover to set up the dramatic conclusion.
Trailing 69-66 with :20 on the clock, Florida decided not to call a timeout after the turnover, despite one remaining, Chiozza drove the lane and kicked the ball out to Koulechov, whose three pointer rimmed off. Keith Stone rebounded the ball and kicked it out to junior KeVaughn Allen who also watched his shot hit the front of the rim as time expired. Florida lost.
It would be unfair to say officiating didn’t have a big effect on the outcome. Though Florida ended up shooting one more free throw, the lack of consistency from the first half to midway through the second was incredibly frustrating. Chris Chiozza found himself with four fouls just seven minutes into the second half, leaving him on the bench for several minutes of the final half. While Chiozza was sitting, the Florida offense struggled mightily. The Red Raiders rattled off a 12-2 run, and Florida had to attempt the comeback.
The Gators made a defensive switch, moving to the zone, which caused Texas Tech all kinds of fits and allowed Florida to get back in it. In the end, Florida just didn’t have enough and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this team just couldn’t pull it off.
Jalen Hudson led all scorers with 23 points while shooting 8-16 from the field. Koulechov finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds while Chiozza ended his career with 11 points and 3 assists.
Florida shot only 39.7% from the field while allowing Texas Tech to shoot 44.4% (including 53% in the second half). Florida usually dominates the assists-turnover stat, but finished with an 11:11 ratio in the loss.
- FLORIDA: 21-13
- TEXAS TECH: 26-9
The season is now over for Florida, but the Gators have a lot of questions to answer. The most pressing question is what happens to Mike White. White is a hot name for the Mississippi job (his alma mater), but has done a masterful job while at Florida.
Florida will also have to replace seniors Egor Koulechov, and Chris Chiozza. Chiozza has become one of the most appreciated players in program history as an undersized guard who fought for what he earned (including the all-time assists record), and was one of the most clutch players in program history. Jalen Hudson has the size and ability that NBA team covet, and could be swayed to enter the NBA Draft. If Hudson decides the go professional, Florida will need to replace their three leading scorers from this season.
Also, Florida needs a big man BADLY. Maybe Isaiah Stokes and Chase Johnson can come back healthy next year, but KeVarrius Hayes can not start on a team that expects to compete for an SEC Championship next year.