The Florida Gator men’s basketball team took its first loss in the SEC Tuesday night as the Arkansas Razorbacks (14-8, 5-4 SEC) throttled the No. 2 ranked Gators (18-3, 8-1 SEC) 80-69, sending the fans at Bud Walton Arena into a frenzy following the biggest win for the program in recent history.
Eleven different players scored points for Arkansas in a game much more lopsided than the final score indicates. The Hogs led handily from start to finish and led by as many as 27 points, by far the largest deficit put up against the Gators this season.
Entering the game, the Gators averaged a 27.8 points margin of victory over SEC foes, but they were thrashed in all aspects of the game. The loss snaps a 10-game winning streak dating back to a Dec. 29 win over Air Force.
Florida head coach Billy Donovan believes that the overwhelming success in weeks prior may have played a factor in the poor performance.
Injuries have plagued the Gators all season long, a theme that continued in defeat. Forward Will Yeguete left the game after only two minutes and didn’t return due to a knee injury.
The upset was fueled by a scintillating start and strong performance from three point range. Arkansas surged out to a 9-2 lead in the opening three minutes, and they piled on more points in the first 13 minutes of the contest than South Carolina scored on the Gators in last Wednesday’s entire game. At halftime, the Razorbacks led the Gators 43-26 and entered the locker room shooting 7 of 13 beyond the arc and 16 of 30 from the field. That was opposed to a mere 4 of 11 from long range and 7 of 24 overall for Florida.
The second half was largely the same as the first, as Arkansas extended its lead by forcing turnovers on the first two possessions of the half. An 11-2 Florida run in the opening five minutes cut the lead to 51-37, but the Razorbacks quickly recovered after a timeout with an 8-0 run. They eventually garnered enough breathing room to settle into command of the game once again.
Arkansas scored 21 points off of 16 turnovers, and outscored Florida 40 to 12 in bench production.
Sophomore standout BJ Young did not start at guard for Arkansas for the second straight game, but he led the team in scoring with 13 points on 3 of 8 shooting from the field as well as five assists. Forward Marshawn Powell scored nine of his team’s first 21 points and finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Mike Rosario was UF’s leading scorer, totaling 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting. Freshman Michael Frazier II performed strong off the bench for the Gators once again, nailing three 3s en route to 11 points. He also lead the team with nine rebounds in 25 minutes.
Three point shooting proved to be the key to the game, and Donovan admitted that the Gators did not defend well enough outside the arc.
Tuesday’s upset marks the first victory over a Top 10 team for Arkansas since wins over Oklahoma and Texas early in the 2008-2009 season, and it signals the first signature win at the school for second year head coach Mike Anderson.
This season, Arkansas has been a tale of two teams. With the victory, the Razorbacks move to 14-1 at home in the friendly confines of Fayetteville. Meanwhile, the team hasn’t earned a single win draped in the all-cardinal road uniforms, compiling a record of 0-7 on the season.
Florida returns home Saturday Night to battle the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, who have lost six straight games heading into their Wednesday Night clash with arch rival Ole Miss.