Late turnovers costly in road loss

The Gators dominated 36 minutes of the game at No. 8 Arizona. The final two minutes of the first half and second half of the game would serve as their undoing. No. 5 Florida had a six-point lead with the ball and 55 seconds remaining when inbounding problems allowed the Wildcats to get back into the game and take the lead with seven seconds left, as Arizona sealed a 65-64 win over the Gators.

"Clearly outplayed them, but the game isn't a 39-minute game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show. "It's a 40-minute game."

The Gators missed the memo. Scottie Wilbekin hit a three-pointer, the last point of the game for Florida, to give the Gators a 64-58 lead with 2:35 remaining. The teams then had three possessions each where neither could score. That's when it got ugly for Florida.

Arizona started to foul with just under a minute left in the game. They fouled twice on purpose and needed a third to send the Gators to the free throw line. Instead, Mike Rosario made it easier for the Wildcats. His inbound pass was stolen by Arizona guard Nick Johnson, and two free throws by Kevin Parrom cut the Florida lead to four.

Rosario turned the ball over again, and layup by Solomon Hill cut the lead to two. On the ensuing inbound, Kenny Boynton turned the ball over, leading to Grant Jerrett making one of two free throws. The Gators still held a 64-63 lead with 21 seconds left and Boynton heading to the free throw line. The senior guard, who was shooting 90% from the free throw line on the season before stepping to the line, missed the first shot.

Arizona senior guard Mark Lyons hit a tough shot just outside the paint with seven seconds to go, giving Arizona its first lead since Lyons hit a three-pointer 1:30 after the opening tipoff.

The Gators looked sloppy and played out of control in the final minute of the game. It didn't catch Donovan by surprise. His veteran team has been sloppy with the ball in practice.

"To be honest with you, our turnovers have been a major problem in practice and I've got to do a better job getting that corrected," the Florida head coach said. "We have way too many turnovers from veteran guys. It's way too much. Even when we did get the ball in bounds, we're dribbling it down the floor and get it stripped from us. It's just plays that are turnovers.

"As a veteran team, we've got to get the ball in bounds and execute. We didn't do that at all. I've got to find a way in practice to cut down our turnovers."

The Florida defense played well in the first half, holding the Wildcats to 29 points. It wasn't as sharp in the second half, as Arizona scored 36 points and shot 50% from the field.

The Gators had another meltdown at the end of the first half. With a 32-21 lead and just over three minutes to go in the first half, Arizona closed the half on an 8-0 run that was aided by two costly Florida turnovers.

"We did some really poor things, some really dumb things," Donovan said. "I said to them at halftime, after they went on the second-half run, that if we were going to lose the game, let's not beat ourselves. And that's exactly what happened. To close out both halves, we beat ourselves. That's the difference in the game because of our inability to close out the half and the game."


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