After defeating Seton Hall Thursday night, the Gator men’s basketball team faced their second challenge of the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando against the Gonzaga Zags. They started out with a good defensive effort and Devin Robinson scored the first seven points for the Gators, but ultimately fell to the Zags 77-72—handing the Gators their first lost of the season.
Kasey Hill, who has been an up and down player throughout his Florida career, used his athleticism Friday night to help lead the way for the Gators against the No. 11 Zags. With 1:27 to go in the first half, Hill had an assist to John Egbunu which led to a dunk over the tall Zags frontline, who have two seven footers at the center position. Hill had a season best seven assists Friday night, along with eight points and four rebounds. The Gators also forced 11 turnovers in the first half.
At halftime the Gators led by five—37-32—but let Gonzaga get the best of them in the second half.
FINAL: Gonzaga 77, Florida 72. Not sure why Kasey Hill went constant ISO to finish the game. #Gators could've won this one.
— Jake Winderman (@jakewinderman) November 26, 2016
The second half the Gators weren’t as energetic as the first and Head Florida basketball coach Mike White says that this hurt them throughout different areas.
“We just never could find a great defensive rhythm I think that led to a little bit of offensive stagnancy, we just didn’t quite have the same ball and player movement that we had in the first half” White said.
Florida didn’t have the best shooting night because they went 2-for-19 from three-point range. The Gators slacked on defense which cost them this game. When they were down by five points with 11 minutes left, the Zags went on a 13-2 run. The Gators then went four minutes without scoring.
The Zags increased their effort offensively and shot 71 percent from the floor in the second half. They had a nine point lead with 5:30 left, but the Gators just came up short . The Gators had chances to get closer but they could not pull any closer than four points at the end of the game.
“They got into a really good rhythm they just hit some timely shots late clock jumpers, it seems like every time we made a mistake they made us pay for it” White said.
Guard Josh Perkins added 18 points for the Zags and Johnathan Williams scored 16 points and was 8-for-9 in shooting.
The Gators had four players in double figures Devin Robinson had a season best with 18, KeVaughn Allen had 15, and Canyon Barry had 12. John Egbunu also had 12 along with 7 total rebounds who faced a challenge with Gonzaga’s large sized front court.
Although it was a loss, the Gators showed that they can hang and challenge a top 15 team.. A win would’ve helped the Gators RPI more but the NCAA selection committee sees that the Gators played a tough team at a neutral site, so the effort could possibly rewarded them when it’s time to send out the invitation for the Big Dance in March.
Robinson believes that his team is capable with hanging with any team, and believes that working on their flaws will help them to play hard with any team “They just got the best of us. The numbers don’t really mean anything anybody can get beaten at any night we just need to keep playing hard and improve on the things that we messed up on tonight and get better at those things. I feel like we can beat anyone in the country” Robinson said.
Up next, the Gators will take on the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators hope to snap the Hurricanes win streak where they have beaten them two years in a row. Last season the Gators faced the Hurricanes in Coral Gables, but fell to them 66-55. Florida will take on Miami on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.