FINAL: FLORIDA 57, ARKANSAS 51
Fayetteville, AK –The Gators improved to 9-5 (1-1) on Wednesday night by holding on to a narrow lead in the waning moments against the Razorbacks, 10-4 (1-1). In the early goings, both teams appeared sluggish approaching the ten minute mark of the first half with neither team showing double digits on the scoreboard.
If not for the plethora of opportunities at the free throw line, the final score might have looked more like a football game. With 45 combined personal fouls, it was almost as physical as one too.
Both teams were exceptionally bad in field goal percentage tonight, shooting 31% or below. They were even worse from behind the arc, as they each gave their best Butch Jones impersonations… brick by brick for an icy cold 23.1%.
Despite their shooting woes, Florida managed to build an 11 point lead at the half by capitalizing on as many turnovers by the Razorbacks. After the break, the Gators continued to clumsily add to their lead, going up by as much as 16 at one point.
Never have I witnessed a team that is so fragile when they have such a large lead, as this year’s Gators. Last week they squandered a 14 point lead in the final 7+ minutes, resulting in a loss to South Carolina. Tonight, it seemed like deja vu as Mason Jones scored a career high 30 points to lead the Hogs and bring them within 2 points with 0:33 left in regulation.
Jones accounted for more than 60% of the Razorbacks offense. In the end, he couldn’t overcome Florida’s free throw shooting. KeVaughn Allen was fouled twice in the final 0:12 and hit all four attempts to put the game away.
This team shows flashes of who they can be from time to time. Mike White is going to need to figure out how to make them consistent.
- KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 18 points, going 11 for 12 from the charity stripe
- Freshman Andrew Nembhard was the assist leader with 4. He also added 6 points.
- Florida forced 16 turnovers, 11 of them in the first half. This is how the Gators plodded along to a halftime lead.
- The free ones were good to the Gators tonight, as they hit 15 of 19 behind the line for a lights out free throw percentage of 78.9%.
Florida will play host to the 3rd ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee is the deepest team in the southeastern conference this season. The Gators will have to play a near perfect game to have a chance at upsetting the Vols in the O’ Dome.