On Tuesday night in a sold out Kohl arena, the Florida Gator men’s basketball team was dealt its first defeat of the season, a close 59-53 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Gators entered Tuesday’s game with a depleted roster just as they did less than a week ago in their home opener, and the loss of their trio was evident. The Gators were led on Tuesday by sophomore shooting guard Michael Frazier II who shot 7 of 11 from the field, 5 of 7 from behind the arc and finished with 20 points overall. Less than a week ago Frazier’s playing time was in doubt due to sickness, but that didn’t seem to be issue as the sophomore shot over 60 percent.
Leading scorer in the Gators season opener, senior Casey Prather finished the night as the only other Gator to finish in double digits as he shot 5 of 11 from the field finishing with 12 points. Despite being the second highest scorer for the Gators on the night, Prather also led the team in turnovers with five as he made it a mission to create opportunities for the offense that just weren’t there. The Gators overall shot 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from behind the arc, and while the Gators hit on 10 of their first 15 shots, it was all downhill from there as the team finished hitting only 9 of their last 32.
The freshman phenom for the Gators Kasey Hill struggled throughout the night shooting just 2 of 11 from the field, missing on all four attempts from behind the arc and fouling out with six minutes left in the game.
As for the big men, senior Patric Young continued to struggle shooting 2 of 6 from the field finishing with eight points and totaling just six rebounds. Fellow senior Will Yeguete connected on every opportunity he was presented with shooting 3 of 3 from the field, connecting on both his free throw attempts, but finished with just eight points as well. Yeguete also totaled four rebounds on the night and two steals.
Junior walk on Jacob Kurtz played 20 significant minutes for the Gators finishing with just one point but he did grab six rebounds as one of only two players to contribute off the bench.
While defense was preached upon by the coaching staff, the Gators were unable to contain the Badgers from behind the arc. Wisconsin was led in scoring by sophomore forward Sam Dekker who finished with 16 points, and junior Traevon Jackson who finished with 13. The Badgers finished the night shooting 45 percent from 3 and 43 percent from the field as they were able to exact some revenge on the Gator squad that blew them out 74-56 just one year ago in Gainesville.
This is now the second game in a row the Gator defense allowed a team to shoot close to 40 percent from behind the arc and it is something Billy Donovan and the coaching staff will have to address.
As the Gators roster wasn’t limited enough, starters Will Yeguete and Casey Prather came down with injuries in the second half. Prather with a leg injury and Yeguete with an apparent wrist injury. Prather finished the game on the court which is a great sign for a team that can’t afford to lose any more players.
Up next for the Gators will be a home matchup on Saturday against the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock who are currently 0-1 on the year.