The Gators just couldn’t make them, eventually falling 75-64 to No. 5 North Carolina.
Florida scored 23 points in the first half and went into the intermission facing a 16-point deficit.
The Gators did themselves in early, failing to get shots to drop as North Carolina opened the game on a 12-0 run. After taking that lead, the Tar Heels saw their lead slip below double figures for just 35 seconds in the first half. The lead got up as high as 18 points in the first half of the game.
Florida shot 29 percent in the first half of the game to set them too far behind to make a run. After falling behind 12-0 to start the game, the Gators outscored the Tar Heels by one point the rest of the way, but the shots not falling during the first 6:45 of play put Florida in too big of a hole.
“We just did not get off to a very good start at all,” Billy Donovan said on postgame radio. “(We started the game) 0-10. I don’t think (North Carolina) did anything spectacular, just an offensive rebound and a shot here or there. We had guys with really good looks. We just don’t have guys that make shots.”
The Gators played much better in the second half. They opened the half on a 12-4 run to cut the North Carolina lead to eight points with 15:26 left to play. Despite cutting the lead to single digits, the Tar Heels pushed it back to double figures and kept it there for a majority of the second half. A 3-pointer from Michael Frazier cut it to seven points with 2:01 left, but it wouldn't get any closer than that.
“We battled and fought,” Donovan said. “We did really good then.”
The Gators tried to shoot their way back into the game from behind the 3-point line, but no one was able to make shots. Michael Frazier came out of a shooting slump while going 4-10 from behind the 3-point line, but the rest of the team was 2-17. Frazier had 17 points and nine rebounds.
But he wasn’t the leading scorer. That went to Florida point guard Kasey Hill, who led all scorers with 20 points after scoring 29 points in the Gators’ first five games this year. Hill went 5-12 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. His quickness and ability to get to the rim caused problems for the Tar Heels, helping Florida get back into the game in the second half.
“The difference was Kasey Hill got into the lane,” Donovan said.
The Gators now get a week off games and will return to action on December 5 with a difficult game at No. 11 Kansas.