It was a different opponent but the same story for the Florida Gator men’s basketball team as they lost a heart breaker to the Ole Miss Rebels Saturday night.
Rebels guard Jarvis Summers made two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to lift Ole Miss (12-7) to a 72-71 victory, and give Florida its third straight defeat in the SEC.
Michael Frazier II sunk two free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining to the Gators (10-9) the edge. After Summer’s free throws, Kasey Hill was able to get to the basket for a potential game-winner, but his layup attempt at the buzzer was late and off the mark.
It was just the latest game in a season in which Florida has failed to find ways to close out games. The Gators have gone 2-5 in games decided by five points or less, with one of those two wins coming at home against Louisiana Monroe of the Sun Belt conference.
Free throws again played a factor down the stretch in a Gator loss, as the team shot 15-24 (63%) from the stripe while Ole Miss went 16-19 (84%). In a key stretch during the last five minutes, Florida missed three out of four from the stripe.
“Coming down the stretch, we missed free throws,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We had some opportunities to extend the lead and Doe-Doe goes oh for two, Eli Carter splits a pair, we go one for four coming down the stretch and you know, you (could) give yourself a little breathing room. And what happens is that last play gets magnified, but there’s a lot of other plays that lead up to that one as well.”
Florida led by six at halftime, but allowed the Rebels to go on a 12-0 run in the middle of the second half to take a 53-46 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining. The Gators battled back with a 11-4 stretch over the next four minutes to tie the game at 57-57. From there, the squads exchanged leads back and forth before Summers sealed the deal with his last second free throws.
The Gators got arguably their best individual performance of the season in the defeat, as Frazier II scored 27 points on 7 of 11 (64%) shooting, including going 6 of 8 (75%) from three point range.
Dorian Finney-Smith also had a strong game for Florida, scoring 15 points while making 4 of 5 (80%) three pointers and grabbing six rebounds.
Frazier II and Finney-Smith were the only Gators to score in double figures, as the eight other players who registered minutes for Florida scored just 29 points combined.
“We only got really two performances offensively, out of Dorian and out of Michael Frazier,” Donovan said. “You know, Michael kept battling and kept playing all the way through there. But didn’t really get a whole lot from too many others.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Gators, as they’ll be in Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Tuesday night. Tip off in that one is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Click below to listen to Coach Donovan’s comments: