GAINESVILLE — The buildup for Wednesday night's game between Florida and Arizona focused on the eight guards between the teams that could light it up from the floor, but in the end it was the Florida big men who made the difference.
Sophomore center Patric Young had a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore forward Will Yeguette added eight rebounds to help the No. 12 Gators hang on to defeat Arizona 78-72 in overtime in front of 10,531 at the O'Connell Center.
In a game in which Florida's guards — Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Brad Beal — shot a combined 9-of-36 from the field and 3-of-18 from 3-point range, the inside game saved the day.
"It's huge," Young said of the way the Gators pulled out the win. "It answered a lot of questions about our team. When guys aren't having good nights (shooting), are they still helping the team in the winning process collectively? And they did."
With Florida leading by three with 8.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Casey Prather was called for a controversial foul on Arizona forward Solomon Hill. Referees said Hill was in the process of shooting from 3-point range, prompting a cry of "No way" from UF coach Billy Donovan. Hill hit all three free throws to force overtime.
The Gators, who had been abysmal from the free-throw line throughout regulation, hit 8-of-12 in overtime to help seal the win.
"Our guys found a way to hang in there and make some plays and finally made a few free throws to win the game," Donovan said. "As the game got inside of two minutes, I felt like our team was playing to win."
Arizona, which struggled from the field early, eventually shot 52 percent in the first half and 44 percent in the second, but it was outrebounded by 10.
"The difference is clearly they were the bigger team; they killed us on the glass," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "They played really hard and wore our team down."
Florida shot 15-of-32 from the free-throw line, including 2-of-14 in the first half, prompting Donovan to tell reporters, "I could go out right now and make 2-for-14 left-handed."
Walker was 2-of-11, and Boynton was 3-of-16.
"Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker tried to take over the game and didn't try to take it over in the right fashion," Donovan said.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.