Florida basketball team defeats Florida State 68-52
With its rival Florida State coming to town and posing the most physical threat its faced all season, the Florida basketball team was hoping to prove that at least in some small way, they aren’t the same, soft team they once were.
For at least one game, the Gators made their point.
Florida jumped out to a 20 point first half lead, nearly lost it, then rallied for a 68-52 win over Florida State Tuesday night in the O’Connell Center.
“We came out with a chip on our shoulders,’’ sophomore guard/forward Ray Shipman said. “. . . You can’t compare this team to last year when it comes to toughness or soft. I just feel like we’ve got a new makeup. We’re a new team and we’re a lot tougher.’’
Florida (4-0) led 39-19 at halftime, but Florida State (3-1) turned things around quickly in the second half. In the first nine minutes, the Gators shot 2-for-11 from the field, were outrebounded 14-6 and had seven turnovers.
Meanwhile, Florida State was in the midst of a 19-4 run to pull within 43-38 with 11:59 remaining in the game. At that critical juncture, mistakes took a toll on the Seminoles. Florida State committed three consecutive turnovers that led to six points for the Gators – part of a 9-0 run and a 50-38 lead which FSU never recovered from.
“In reality we had three straight possessions where we made mistakes, mental errors, all three of them in transition and unfortunately it gave the opportunities to run down and they score on all three of those possessions,’’ FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. ‘”You fight hard to put yourself in that position, and then we made three poor decisions in a critical part of the game. If we had not turned the ball over in half-court offense, and had an opportunity to shoot the ball, but we turned it over and that gave them a chance to score on all three of those possessions and it kind of took the wind out of our sails.’’
Sophomore guard Chris Singleton scored FSU’s first 10 points, and finished the game with 14. Former Florida signee Derwin Kitchen scored a team-high 15. Kenny Walker and Erving Walker led the Gators with 13 each.
The Seminoles were hampered by 19 first half turnovers and despite the height advantage were outrebounded 20-11 in the first half.
“I was really proud of our guys for a lot of reasons,’’ UF coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought we played really well (in the first half). You hvat to give Florida State a lot of credit for their kids coming out in the second half, having a lot of pride and resiliency, and battling. Our guys, again, when FSU made a run, we were able to regroup and push the lead back. I thought it was a good win for us.’’