"I take responsibility for our focus," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "I don't know where our focus was tonight in terms of scouting report, preparation and what we did. I was disappointed after having a week off to prepare."
Florida ended the game 5-19 from behind the three-point line, but taking out Michael Frazier's 3-7 day from behind the arc, the Gators went 2-12. The shots weren't going down and Florida tried to wait for them to fall for the offensive breakout to occur.
Outside of Frazier's back-to-back three-pointers within a 45-second span that gave Florida a 37-35 lead halfway through the second half, the shots from the perimeter never came for the team. But three seniors made up for it.
Patric Young had one of his best games of the season with 15 points and six rebounds, dominating a smaller Richmond frontcourt. Scottie Wilbekin struggled throughout most of the day but made good decisions and hit two field goalsand two free throws in the final six minutes while opening up shots for others. Casey Prather reached double figures just as he has done in all 13 games this season.
The three's play down the stretch that sparked the Florida run. Young stepped up to take a charge to flip moment late in the second half. Prather was fouled while making a layup, hitting the free throw to complete a three-point play and give Florida a four-point lead with 3:50 to go. Wilbekin's second-half play improved after a slow first half. Donovan challenged him to step up at halftime and was pleased with the way his senior point guard played in the second half.
Their added energy late in the game changed Florida's mood and helped the Gators squeak out the win.
"We've known since we were freshmen that there were things we would do differently when we got the opportunity after seeing seniors in Vernon (Macklin), Chandler (Parsons) and Alex Tyus," Patric Young said. When we got the opportunity, we knew we were going to step up and make sure things go a certain way. Being seniors, there's no one else to look to except for us."
In the final non-conference game before Southeastern Conference play begins on Wednesday, the lack of intensity was noticeable from the beginning. Assistant coach Rashon Burno told multiple players in warmups that they needed to refocus or they would put themselves in danger of a loss.
It didn't happen. As Florida ran away with the game late in the second half, the team was able to ice the game away but not without a challenge. Florida made one of its final six free throws during the final minute of the game.
"The guards looked flat in our warmup," Frazier said. "To start the game off, we were flat and we didn't have a lot of energy. But as the game went on, I think we did a good job of picking it up."
The Gators host South Carolina on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to open SEC play.