All good things must come to an end.
With a 69-67 loss to the Miami Hurricanes at the O’Connell Center on Monday night, the 33 game home winning streak for the Florida men’s basketball team is over.
Florida junior guard Eli Carter dropped 21 points on an efficient 8-for-9 shooting while junior sharpshooter Michael Frazier II added 13 points but it was not enough to overcome 48 points scored by the Hurricanes in the second half.
“As painful as it is for me, not that I want to see our guys lose, but they need to know what goes into winning,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “As much as it’s hard for me to say, it’s just they don’t have a great clue and an understanding (of what goes into a win). We played hard, we gave really, really good effort but we were unable to sustain that in the second half.”
Florida saw its 15 point lead erased in the second half largely due to the efforts of Miami junior point guard Angel Rodriguez, who scored five three-pointers in second half to rally the Hurricanes back.
Michigan transfer Jon Horford was the go-to option down the stretch for Florida, scoring eight points in the final four minutes but it wasn’t enough. Horford finished with 17 points and seven boards.
Rodriguez scored 18 of his last 24 points in the final 9:02 of the game; his isolation three-pointer over Kasey Hill’s outstretched arm with 16 seconds remaining to take a 68-67 lead proved to be the difference-maker.
“I was surprised we were even in the game,” Donovan admitted. “I thought our effort really kept us in the game and I thought when our effort diminished and we lost that intensity, I think (Miami’s) talent level took over.”
Forward Dorian Finney-Smith did not play due to a hairline fracture in his non-shooting hand, thus forcing the Gators to go with a seven-man rotation. Walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz and Frazier II each played 36 minutes.
The Gators went 988 days without a home loss. They last tasted defeat in the O’Dome on March 4th, 2012, against a Kentucky Wilcats team led by eventual NBA number one overall draft selection Anthony Davis.
“It was a great run I guess here at home,” said Donovan. “It was a couple of years… it was really, really nice. But I loved the challenge today because clearly this wasn’t our full team and I thought a lot of guys poured their heart out there.”
The Gators will look to bounce back and build a new home winning streak on Friday when they welcome Louisiana-Monroe (1-0) to the O’Dome. Sophomore forward Chris Walker should be available for the Gators after serving his three-game suspension.
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