Florida drops heartbreaker at Connecticut

The Gators were able to dominate the glass on Monday, but when it counted the most, that changed. No. 15 Florida allowed three offensive rebounds on Connecticut's final two possessions, and the Huskies scored a combined six points after corralling the ball, sealing a 65-64 win with a buzzer beater over the Gators in front of a sellout crowd at Gampel Pavilion.

After Michael Frazier hit a layup to give Florida a 64-63 lead with 19 seconds left to play, Billy Donovan called a timeout to set up his defense. Connecticut senior point guard Shabazz Napier got in trouble around the half court line before breaking out of it and missing a jump shot.

The ball came off the basket in a hurry, was tipped out by Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels and right to Napier at the free throw line. He took a quick shot and made it, sprinting off the court and into the Connecticut locker room to celebrate.

"Daniels made an unbelievable play," Donovan said. "We had too many guys running to the rim, but it landed right in Napier's hands. If it lands anywhere else, the game is over. The last play was a fluke play. The ball just didn't bounce our way."

Florida outrebounded Connecticut 34-26, but they allowed two offensive rebounds to the Huskies on their second-to-last possession. Connecticut missed back-to-back three-pointers on the possession before Napier hit a three-pointer and was fouled, making the free throw to give Connecticut a 63-62 lead.

That was the play that hurt Donovan the most.

"The play that really hurt us was the play before (Napier's buzzer beater) defensively," Donovan said. "We had two opportunities up three to rebound the basketball with a big lineup, and we didn't come down with it twice. That resulted in fouling a three-point shooter for a four-point play."

The loss hurts Florida, but the damage from the game could be much worse. Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, playing in his third game back from a suspension to open the season, went down after spraining his ankle with around three minutes left in the game.

The Gators are already playing without freshman point guard Kasey Hill (high ankle sprain), and his status remains uncertain for the Kansas game on December 10. Florida announced Monday night that Wilbekin left the arena without a boot or crutches.

"I have no idea how bad the ankle is," Donovan said. "I don't know what the prognosis is. I was proud of our guys when he went down. We couldn't play them man-to-man and had bad matchups."

When Wilbekin went out, center Patric Young took over. He finished the night with 17 points and seven rebounds, but eight of those points came in the final three minutes with Wilbekin out.

"He played really well tonight. We got the ball in deep post position and he did a very nice job. I was proud of how he performed after that Florida State game."

Casey Prather led Florida with 19 points and seven rebounds. However, Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith combined for 11 of Florida's 16 turnovers.

The Gators get a week off before hosting Kansas on December 10 at 7 p.m.


Fightin Gators Top Stories