Gators fall 71-68 in overtime to Jacksonville University
After knocking off then-No. 6 Kansas State this past weekend, the Florida basketball team seemed poised to have a couple of easy games this week - against unranked Jacksonville and Radford.
But if you know anything about this team, you know this: nothing's easy. And it's tough to know which Gator team is going to show up on any given night.
Which leads to Monday afternoon.
The Gators struggled through a lackluster performance on the way to a 71-68 overtime loss to JU (7-3).
Florida (8-3) trailed 29-27, but the Gators eventually took a 56-49 lead with 6:58 remaining - then never scored again from the field in regulation. Florida went 10:48 (including into overtime) without a field goal.
Leading 61-59 with possession of the ball, UF senior forward Chandler Parsons had the ball stolen by Jacksonville forward Ayron Hardy who went down and dunked with 18 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 61.
The Gators had one last opportunity, but Erving Walker’s jumper with time running out didn’t go. Walker also missed the final shot in overtime.
“We wanted to go quick and get like a dribble drive, and then the shot clock ran down and we had to take the three,’’ said Walker who led the Gators with 21 points. “They played good defense and we just couldn’t get in the lane.’’
JU scored first in overtime, then the two battled back and forth. Dolphins’ guard Keith McDougald (18 points) hit four consecutive free throws in the final 31.8 seconds to seal the win.
"When they fouled me, they called a timeout and we was in the huddle, coach Warren told me that I was going to make the free throws and when I was at the free throw line, I just believed I was going to make them and they went in,'' McDougald said. "No nerves at all.''
To add insult to injury, JU's Travis Cohn mocked the Gator chomp at the Florida student section following the game, as the Gator players dragged off.
"This is the Gators, they're ranked No. (20) , they're a big SEC school, and we came out with the victory,'' said Delwan Graham. "That's big for us. I don't think Jacksonville beat a [ranked] team in 40 years, so this a major victory for us.''
The Gators outrebounded the Dolphins 48-31 and had 34 free throw attempts (23 made) compared to 14 (eight made) for JU. But Florida shot 35 percent from the field and was 3-of-14 from 3-point range.
“Our basketball team, we find a lot of ways to sabotage ourselves,’’ Donovan said. “They were more of a team today than we were. Clearly, for the people that watched us play against Kansas State, (it was) two totally different teams. We were ripe to be beat. That's what it was. We were totally ripe to be beat. I'm not sure we could have beat anybody tonight. And that's not taking anything away from Jacksonville, because their kids did a great job.’’