Gators break down, lose at Missouri

Florida looked to be in control early in the second half, but as the Gators have struggled with throughout the year, the offense hit a lull late in the game.

When Florida’s scoring ability stopped, Missouri took over and ended with a 64-52 win over the Gators (13-15, 6-9 SEC) on Tuesday night.

After Jacob Kurtz hit one of two free throws to stretch Florida’s lead to 45-39 with 11:43 left to play, Missouri (8-20, 2-13 SEC) finished the game on a 25-7 run, including an 18-3 run inside of that. The win snapped a 13-game losing streak for Missouri.

“We made some really, really poor choices,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said on the postgame radio show. “With 13 minutes to go, we were in the process of being able to shoot the one-and-one the rest of the game, and even in timeouts telling them that we needed to attack the basket and get fouled. We got there some and went 9-23. In essence, that was the game. We just made some bad decisions.”

The Tigers were led by guard Namon Wright, who scored 28 points while going 10-13 from the field and 6-8 from behind the three-point line. Wright came into the game averaging 5.4 points and scored all of the Tigers’ points on an 11-3 run in the second half.

Florida was focused on Missouri forward Johnathan Williams III, and he scored nine points with seven rebounds. But it was Wright that did the most damage.

“He shot the heck out of the ball,” Donovan said. “We didn’t have anybody in our backcourt that could match up with him. He just rose up over our guys. He was the guy that carried the scoring load for them.”

Donovan remained frustrated with his team fouling too much and pointed to multiple confusing plays, such as Kasey Hill’s technical for reaching over the line and touching the ball in the hands of a Missouri player trying to inbound the ball with three minutes left in a six-point game.

“There’s a lack of awareness, lack of a basketball IQ,” Donovan said. “It’s play after play. Those are the kind of things where you sit there and scratch your head saying, ‘at what point is winning a priority and what are you doing?’ They’re sabotaging what we’re trying to do, and that was the discouraging part.”

Freshman Devin Robinson led the Gators with 14 points on 5-12 shooting, including an emphatic dunk in the first half that energized Florida. It was his fourth game in the last five with double-digit points. Center Jon Horford also added 10 points with eight rebounds.

Tuesday looked like Billy Donovan’s best chance to get his 500th win this season. With home games against Tennessee and Texas A&M remaining before a game at Kentucky to close the regular season, there are no guaranteed wins on the rest of the schedule.

“I don’t know how much better we can get,” Donovan said. “We’re trying as hard as we can and for whatever reason, I’m unable and having a hard time getting through to them about the things we need to do that really go into winning. You practice, work on it and talk to them, but we’re not able to see it translating at all to the court or in these games.”

The Gators host the Volunteers on Saturday at 6 p.m. (TV: ESPN2). Donovan wouldn’t say if Dorian Finney-Smith will return from his suspension, but he did say that he didn’t expect Michael Frazier (high ankle sprain) to play.

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