On Wednesday night, the Florida men’s basketball team (15-7) did something they haven’t been able to do all season; they made their free throws consistently. The Gators took down the Arkansas Razorbacks, 87-83, and were an astounding 30-36 (83%) from the free-throw line, in one of their best performances from the charity stripe this season. Arkansas closed the gap to only four at the end of the game after making six of their last seven shots, finishing the game on a 23-15 run.
— Gator M-Basketball (@GatorsMBK) February 4, 2016
Dorian Finney-Smith had another dominate performance for the Gators, scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Chris Chiozza was Florida’s best offensive facilitator racking up eight assists, adding 17 points as well. While the Gators would shoot a poor 26 percent from beyond the arc, their 50 percent from the field was more than enough to pick up the victory.
Moses Kingsley fouled out with 1:26 left in the contest, but still led the Razorbacks in rebounds, grabbing nine boards, while adding 15 points on 6-10 shooting. Anthlon Bell led Arkansas in overall scoring, finishing with 24 points, going 4-5 from three-point range.
Coach Mike White started with a small lineup, including guards, Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen to break Arkansas’ heavy, full court press.
Florida dominated the boards to start the game, taking a 7-3 rebounding advantage after the first five minutes, including three offensive boards. The Gators would take a 10-9 lead after the first seven minutes following an 8-2 run.
A minute and a half, 7-0 run, would give the Gators a 17-11 lead with 11:30 left in the first half, capped off by a Dorian Finney-Smith three-pointer. Finney-Smith had 14 points and four rebounds in the first 20 minutes, sinking 6-7 shots from the field.
Center John Egbunu checked in for the first time all game with only 5:45 left to go in the first half. Both Kevarrius Hayes and Schuyler Rimmer saw action before Egbunu came in at the five. Egbunu finished the first half with two points, zero rebounds and only one foul. After Egbunu checked in, the Gators took their largest lead of the first half, going up 35-26 with 5:20 left in the first frame after a three-pointer by Justin Leon. Leon closed the first half with five points and four rebounds.
Arkansas ended the first half on a 7-2 run to cut Florida’s lead to only two going into the locker room after leading by as much as nine.
Free throw shooting, a season long weakness for Florida, plagued Arkansas in the first half, as the hogs went a poor 5-9 from the line. The Gators on the other hand didn’t miss a free throw in the first twenty minutes going 10-10 from the charity stripe.
While the Gators rank 120 spots higher than the Razorbacks nationally in rebounding, Florida only held a 17-15 rebounding advantage after the first twenty minutes, and were even outrebounded on the offensive glass 6-5.
For the second game in a row, Dorian Finney-Smith scored the first points of the first and second half, after “DoeDoe” knocked down an and-one look to put the Gators up by three with 18:37 left in the final frame.
Egbunu helped fuel a 6-0 run for the Gators with 14:48 left in the game, including two powerful slams. One of those included a posterization of Arkansas’ big man, and SEC Player of the Week, Moses Kingsley. Egbunu had eight, second half points in the first six minutes for the Gators.
After 30 minutes, Florida found themselves up by three, largely in part to the Gators going an unprecedented 15-15 from the charity tripe. UF has shot 63.2 percent from the free throw line as a team on the season.
With just under five minutes to play, the Gators took their largest lead yet, going up 72-60 on the Razorbacks after KeVaughn Allen hit two free throws following a technical foul by Moses Kingsley.
Although Arkansas closed the game on a 23-15 run, hitting six of their last seven shots, Florida was able to hang on, winning the contest, 87-83, picking up their second straight victory, while staying undefeated at the O’Connell Center on the season.
The Gators’ next game is on Saturday at Rupp Arena vs. Kentucky. The Wildcats (16-6) have lost their last two games after being one of the most hyped up teams coming into the 2015-2016 season.