It was anything but another day at the office for a Billy Donovan coached basketball team.
Despite getting the win, the Florida men’s basketball team showed it not only missed the talents of former players Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario but also missed their leadership and overall knowledge of the game of basketball.
Florida started the game on a 25-10 run with multiple trips to the free throw line. The Gators were in control midway through the first half with Casey Prather attacking and finishing in the paint at will.
Prather finished the half with 17 points, surpassing his previous career high (14), and he finished the game with 28. When asked about his career performance, Prather said he was just playing basketball the way he knows he’s capable of.
“I mean, I’m just playing basketball. I don’t know a number of confidence to tell you, but I’m just playing basketball; playing to my strengths,” Prather said.
But the second ten minutes of the first half didn’t go as well as the first did for the Gators. UNF ended the half on an 11-0 run, bringing their deficit to just six (37-31). After the game, Donovan said it was the inexperience of his guys that left the Gators susceptible to momentum shifts.
“You know, some of our younger guys don’t understand how quickly momentum can change. It was a combination of a couple of things in both halves, when we got up 18 or 19,” Donovan said. “In the first half it was really, really poor decisions on offense with some drives and passes. Which ultimately led to them getting out on the break.”
In the second half, it was more of the Prather and Michael Frazier II show as the Gators needed the sophomore guard, Frazier, more than they thought they would. Before the game, the trainers told Frazier he would only play 8-10 minutes after recovering from mono the past week, but Frazier ended up playing 24 minutes in the game — third highest on the team.
He ended the game with 19 points and nine rebounds. After the game, Frazier talked about the expectation he had — or really, didn’t have — going into his first game.
“None. Just trying to get back into shape is obviously the biggest thing; trying to get back into game shape,” Frazier said. “Going through practices, and trying to get back to where I was before I got sick.”
At the final buzzer, the Gators held on to an eight-point lead, but that margin of victory was the lowest at home since the 2011-2012 season.
Florida was also in danger of ending a 21-year shooting streak with at least one three pointer in 725 consecutive games dating back to 1992, however, transfer guard Eli Carter nailed the team’s first three with 11:40 left in the second half to keep the streak alive.
The Gators next contest is at No. 20 Wisconsin, a team the Gators blew out in the O’Connell Center last year 74-56. That game is Tuesday Nov. 12, and the Gators will be without suspended players Scottie Wilbekin, Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris.
In the meantime, coach Donovan said his team has a lot to work on and the way this group played was no where near the rank they currently have next to their name.
“We are light years away from even being a remotely good defensive team right now and I think light years away from even being a ranked team,” Donovan said.
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