Florida (12-13, 5-7 SEC) had a chance to win it but couldn’t get a shot off, dropping its second straight one-point game and its fourth straight game with a 63-62 loss to the Aggies.
“It has been three games now where I’m excited about our fight,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show. “We battled and fought, but you’ve got to try to come up with a win there.”
The Gators struggled to score during the first half and once trailed by 11 points before cutting it down late in the game and taking their first lead with 1:45 remaining. Florida forward Alex Murphy took and missed two three-pointers from both corners in the final minute, but the last one, the potential game-winner, wouldn’t have counted if it went because he didn’t get the shot off in time.
With Michael Frazier out because of a high ankle sprain for the second straight game, Florida shot 23 percent (6-26) from behind the 3-point line. Texas A&M had 21 assists on its 25 field goals and made 85 percent from the free throw line.
“The biggest issue in the game was in the second half, they really hurt us around the basket offensively,” Donovan said. “For this team, there have been moments we play well and moments where we’re trying to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
Chris Walker provided energy off the bench, scoring 11 points (5-5 FG) and adding four blocks with one rebound. Dorian Finney-Smith finished with Florida’s second double-double of the season, totaling 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kasey Hill didn’t score but pulled down six rebounds to go with 10 assists.
Eli Carter led the Gators with a season-high 22 points, but Donovan wants more from him going forward.
“The problem with Eli is, that’s great, but we need consistent offense from him,” Donovan said. “What he does need to do is be in a situation where his shooting percentage is not poor. Tonight, he was efficient. We can’t have three, four or five games in a row where he goes back to struggling. He was the one that kept us in the game.”
These games continue to show Donovan that his team isn’t ready to win big. They’re playing hard and the effort has improved in recent weeks, but they’re still trying to understand what it takes to be successful at this level.
“Eli Carter in the huddle the last two possessions said “guys we’ve got to be disciplined.” I told him after the game that’s a great thing to say, but we’ve got to be disciplined in practice,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to rehearse that discipline in practice. There’s a lead up to it where our discipline wasn’t great, and we can’t just turn on discipline when the game’s tight. We’ve got to do it all the time.”
The Gators return home to face Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 7 p.m.