Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

Florida Gators edge FSU on late free throw

GAINESVILLE — The last time Dorian Finney-Smith had an opportunity to hit the winning shot, he was a freshman at Virginia Tech facing Clemson in an ACC game.

Friday night, the junior transfer hit the second of two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining in the game to give No. 15 Florida a 67-66 win over rival Florida State in front of 12,306 at the O'Connell Center. It was the fifth consecutive win for the Gators (6-1) over the Seminoles (5-2).

It was a redemptive moment for Finney-Smith who was 2-of-12 from the field.

"It felt really good," said Finney-Smith, who also had 10 rebounds. "I felt like I had a lot of weight off my back because I couldn't make any shots the whole game."

It was the kind of game you'd expect from two arch rivals.

Guard Ian Miller pulled the Seminoles within 65-64 with a contested 3-pointer with 1:10 left. After Florida forward Casey Prather hit one of two free throws with 41.8 seconds remaining, Miller tied it with two free throws with 28.3 seconds left.

Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin ran down the clock and missed a pullup jumper, and Finney-Smith rebounded and was fouled as he went up for a shot with 1.3 seconds left. FSU had one last opportunity, but Miller's shot from near half court shot hit the back of the rim and came back.

"We defended well enough to get the stop, but they got the offensive rebound and made the shot and that was the difference in the game, " FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "… I'm very proud of this team. Hopefully we'll learn from this one."

Florida led 31-28 at halftime, with neither team able to find a consistent offensive rhythm. For the majority of the first half offense was at a premium for both teams.

Midway through the first half the Gators were shooting 4-of-18 and the Seminoles were 3-of-10. Florida shot 35.4 percent in the first half, FSU 38.5.

FSU center Boris Bojanovsky finished with a career-high 14 points, 12 in the first half.

"It was a really ugly game for us," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. I didn't think we played great. We didn't take advantage of what was there."

The grind-it-out game included 38 fouls.

"It was very physical," Prather said. "They had a lot of guys with a lot of size and it was hard to get into the paint and do what we needed to do.

Florida appeared to pull away several times in the second half, taking a nine-point lead with 6:17 left. But the Seminoles kept battling back.

In the second half, Florida was aided by Prather and Michael Frazier, a sophomore guard from Tampa. The two combined for 22 of the Gators' first 32 second-half points —12 consecutive at one point.

Frazier, who has had at least four 3-pointers in three of seven games, hit 5-of-8 3-pointers.

"We struggled and at times Frazier carried us," Donovan said. "His 3s were very, very timely."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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