Florida loses big lead at Kansas

The Gators looked like they had everything figured out in the first half.

The Jayhawks flipped the script in the second half, running away with a 71-65 win on Friday night. Florida fell to 3-4 on the season, dropping under .500 for the first time since 1998.

The Gators trailed for just 11:48, including the last 5:43 of action.

After struggling through the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Gators got a week off to get healthy and looked great in the first half. Florida shot 53.6 percent in the first half to take a 39-24 lead into halftime.

The Gators used a 21-4 run to take a comfortable 35-18 lead late in the first half. Freshman Devin Robinson had the best game of his young career, posting 13 points and five rebounds with one block and one steal. He also fouled out late in the second half.

Florida got its lead up to 17 points with a jumper from Dorian Finney-Smith with 55 seconds left in the first half. A jumper by Kansas guard Frank Mason III cut the lead to 15 seconds just before halftime.

“If you said to me, “how do you want your team to play?” Like we did in that first half,” Donovan said.

In the second half, Kansas took over. The Jayhawks outscored Florida 47-26 in the second half. A jumper from Wayne Selden, Jr., who ended the night with a game-high 21 points, gave Kansas a 54-52 lead with 5:43 left to play, and it was the last time the lead would change.

The Jayhawks shot 48 percent in the second half, while the Gators went cold and shot 34.5 percent. When Florida needed a basket, they got good looks but simply couldn’t make them. It has been a recurring theme for this team so far this year, and it crept up again late in the game on Friday. A 17-0 run for Kansas got them back in the game and eventually put it away.

“It’s a little bit of a theme,” Donovan said. “Very similar situation with Miami at home, and we just defensively fall apart. It’s like something happens to us in the second half. You know the other team is going to make a run.”

Despite playing only 15 minutes, Chris Walker was second on the team with 12 points and five rebounds. He played with energy and gave the Gators a boost off the bench, something that will be important going forward.

“Chris Walker got better. It was a real difficult, challenging week coming out of the Bahamas. He got confronted and challenged. He learned how hard he has to play. He’s starting to get better.”

Florida returns home to face Yale on Monday at 7 p.m. Yale pulled off an upset win at defending national champion Connecticut on Friday night.

“There’s no easy games for us,” Donovan said. “There’s just not. We’re not talented enough, not good enough. That will be an incredible challenge for us on Monday.”

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