Florida Falls Short in Athens

ATHENS, Ga. - With a chance to just about secure their first NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons, Florida instead suffered a frustrating loss to Georgia. A career high 29 point performance from Chandler Parsons wasn't enough, as the Bulldogs triumphed 78-76. Freshman Kenny Boynton also had a strong afternoon, scoring 22 points including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

Florida had a chance to tie the game on its final possession, which began with 13 seconds remaining. They attempted to create a shot for Parsons, but Georgia had a double team on him. Rather than force up a bad shot, Parsons passed the ball to an open Dan Werner. Instead of shooting, Werner tried to feed the ball inside to Vernon Macklin. Georgia's Albert Jackson deflected his pass attempt out of bounds. With just a :00.1 remaining on the clock, there was no opportunity for Florida to score at that point.

While Werner wasn't available to comment after the game, others weighed in on his decision not to shoot with time running down.

"We got Dan wide open, and I think in that situation... what you want to be able to do is get off a shot," said Florida coach Billy Donovan. "I'm sure if Dan had the possession back we'd have a wide open 16 footer and I don't think you can for anything better than a possession coming down to a pretty decent look."

Donovan believes Werner was trying to get the best possible shot by throwing the ball inside, although with the time remaining it would have been extremely difficult for Macklin to catch the pass and get a shot up.

"He should have shot that one. At least we'd get a chance at the win, but we didn't get a shot up," said Boynton.

"Obviously if (Werner) could have it back, he'd take the jump shot," said Parsons. "We got a good look, we just really have got to execute."

Parsons accurately emphasized that the game shouldn't be viewed as having been decided on the final possession. The game got away from Florida late in the first half. Georgia had led most of the way, but Florida was only down five after a Vernon Macklin hook shot with 2:36 remaining in the half. It was the last points the Gators mustered before the break, as Georgia put together a 10-0 run to lead 45-30 at the half. The Gators battled through the second half to make up the gap, but were never able to do so.

Kenny Boynton's 3-pointer closed the gap to 71-69 at the 5:46 mark. It capped a 17-4 UF run that included a spectacular Parsons one handed alley oop dunk and a Werner steal and breakaway dunk. The Gators got it down to two again multiple times, but never could make up the gap. Erving Walker had a 3-point try to take the lead at the 52 second mark that clanged off the front rim, which turned out to be the last shot Florida took in the game.

Florida's offense was atypical of its recent performances, with a heavy early reliance on the three pointer. Six of the Gators first seven made shots were from behind the arc, with their second two point bucket of the game not coming until there was 6:43 remaining in the first half. They hit 11-of-23 for the game from long range.

One mystery for Florida was the performance of Alex Tyus. The junior failed to score, gathered just four rebounds and seemed like he was in a fog throughout the game.

"When (Tyus) plays well, we play well," said Parsons. "He just needs to come to every game focused and alert and ready."

In part because of Tyus being off his game, Florida struggled mightily on defense in the first half. Georgia got numerous opportunities right by the basket early and wound up shooting 57 percent for the game.

"I didn't think we played great defense," said Donovan. "We had a really hard time with Trey Thompkins in the first half. I thought Dan did a geat job on him in the second half, but certainly we didn't do a great job guarding him in particular or their team."

With the loss, Florida sits at 20-9 and 9-5 in SEC play. As a result of Tennessee's defeat of Kentucky, the Gators are now tied for third in the SEC East heading into Tuesday's game with Vanderbilt at the O'Connell Center.


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