The Florida Gators ten game win streak came to a crashing end Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks came out energetic and inspired hitting their first seven of nine three point shots and out-hustling the Gators on the boards and to every loose ball. The Gators couldn’t match their effort, intensity, or shooting percentage losing a tough one 80-69 their first loss of the season in conference play after opening 8-0. The Gators drop to 18-3 on the season while the Razorbacks move to 14-8 (5-4).
The Razorbacks jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead and the Gators never recovered. They shot an uncharacteristic 29% from the field in the first half while allowing the Hogs to hit 53% from three and 53% overall from the field in the first twenty minutes. The Gators came in 2nd in the nation in scoring defense giving up only 50 point per game. The Hogs almost had that in the first half. Arkansas scored more in the first half against the Gators (43) than four of the Gator’s opponents including SEC foe South Carolina. They became the first team all season to break 70 points against the Gators.
The Gators were due for a flat game after playing so well since the Kansas State loss the only other flat game they played this season. And boy were they ever. Much like their football counterparts in the Sugar Bowl they appeared flat footed, a step short, a second late offensively and defensively. It didn’t help that the refs were calling a loose, inconsistent game allowing a lot of rough play to carry on while calling some real ticky tack type of stuff. The inconsistent referee calls forced Billy Donovan to call a timeout early in the second half where he scolded the entire referee crew before engaging in a stare down with the lead ref.
The timeout seemed to energize the Gator players as they came out and quickly got some turnovers and quick scores but it didn’t last nearly long enough as they eventually began to play sloppy and out of control putting the skids on any type of Gator comeback in this one. It was a tough loss for sure, but probably a good loss as Donovan will surely use this as a teaching tool much like he did after the tough Kansas State loss.
For the game the Razorbacks outshot the Gators 49%to 41% from the field and 44% to 37% from three point range easily the best shooting performance against the Gators this season.
The Gators were led by Mike Rosario, who led all scorers, with 15 points and Scottie Wilbekin with 14. Michael Frazier played well off the bench finishing with 11 points on 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Kenny Boynton added 10 for the Gators while Erik Murphy and Patric Young chipped in 9 apiece.
The story of the game was the patience, ball movement, and sharpshooting of the Razorbacks on the offensive end, and the Gators poor ballhandling (16 turnovers) and horrid shooting from the perimeter. In the decisive first half, the Gators were allowing the Razorbacks to force them into perimeter shots rather than pushing the ball inside. While settling for outside shots which they weren’t hitting, they were even worse on the boards allowing Arkansas to grab every board and push the ball up the floor and getting Florida out of rhythm defensively. Oddly, while the Gators certainly didn’t have their best defensive game of the season they didn’t necessarily play as bad as the numbers looked, Arkansas just was dropping shots like a man on fire and at points were indefensible.
The Gators have to regroup as they head back to Gainesville to take on Mississippi State on Saturday in the O”Connell Center. Tip off for that game is 5 pm eastern and will be broadcast on FSN/Foxsports.