Basketball Season Review --- Part Two

While the Sweet 16 gets ready to gear up the recently completed Gator basketball season is still on our minds. In part one, we looked at the best wins of the 2009-10 campaign and today we go through the pain of remembering the five worst losses.

In reality, this was much tougher to do, because Florida really only suffered three "bad" losses this season and just one of them could be considered a "horrible" setback. Thus, the first two losses on this list really aren't all that bad. But we committed to five of each so here goes.

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Tennessee 61 Florida 60 ----- It's hard to view this is a "bad" loss as much as it was a missed opportunity. Florida entered Thompson-Boling arena on a four game winning streak eager to end a streak of failure against the boys from Rocky Top. Tennessee was ranked No. 14, but was still a bit in shock after four players had been arrested with guns and marijuana in their car. Florida came out playing very well and led by ten in the final minute of the first half before Tennessee closed it to six (34-28) before intermission. The Vols attacked the glass in the second half, pounding the Gators on the boards 27-12 and grabbed a five point lead on three occasions. The Gators didn't cave in, and took the lead (60-59) on a Chandler Parsons three point shot with 34 seconds to play. Scotty Hopson answered with a deuce for the Vols, and the Vols won when Alex Tyus missed an open eight footer at the buzzer.

Richmond 56 Florida 53 ----- This loss seemed worse at the time, but the Spiders went on to win 26 games making it a bit more palatable. Still this should not have been a loss in front of a partisan crowd in Sunrise. The Gators led by eight (32-24) at the half, but had been up 13 before being outscored 5-0 in the last two minutes of the half and that proved fatal. Richmond opened the second half on a 9-0 to take the lead and pushed to a nine point lead (46-37) with less than 11 minutes to play. Florida rallied for a 49-48 lead with 2:30 to play but ran out of gas. Even with the rally, the Gators managed just 21 points after the break. This was one of several games when the Florida back court of Erving Walker (2-11) and Kenny Boynton (3-12) just couldn't make shots and Vernon Macklin was no factor (4 pts/5 reb).

Georgia 78 Florida 76 ---- The Gators had just concluded a great three game stretch featuring wins over Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee and went to Athens trying to solidify its place in the Big Dance. Instead the Gators fell to a Georgia team that had a great shooting day. Florida actually led 17-15 after 8:45 of play, but then Georgia could not miss. The Dawgs went on a 30-13 run to take a 15-point lead after 20 minutes. Florida made no progress in the next ten minutes and trailed 67-52 before mounting a rally. The Gators got it down to two points twice in the last three minutes and had the ball with 13 seconds to play. Dan Werner passed up an outside shot and tried to pass the ball to Macklin but the ball was deflected out of bounds with a tenth of a second to play and Georgia held on for the win.

South Carolina 77 Florida 71 ----- You could easily argue that this was the worst loss of the year because of the importance of the game and the fact that Florida just gave it away. The Gators had rebounded from the loss at Tennessee to beat Alabama and Mississippi State and took a 17-6 record to Columbia. The Gators led most of the way and were up six (49-43) with 12 minutes to play before giving up a 27-10 run that left them down 11. The run was keyed by missed free throws and turnovers and that ended up being the story of the game. The Gators turned it over 20 times and were minus-14 in that category. Florida also shot a dreadful 10-for-23 at the free throw line with Erving Walker (6-10), Erik Murphy (1-5) and Alex Tyus (1-4) provided the bulk of the misses. Werner played 21 minutes with no points, no rebounds and five fouls.

South Alabama 67 Florida 66 ----- This is by far the worst team Florida lost to and they did it at home. The Jaguars finished 8-10 in the Sun Belt Conference, yet they won in the O'Dome. The Gators lost this one on an offensive rebound basket with 1.8 seconds to play. But the game was really lost by the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Florida made just 3-of-22 shots from behind the 3-point line and failed to make a field goal in the final six minutes of play. The Gators also failed to out rebound a much smaller team breaking even on the glass (39-39) despite a huge size advantage.

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That wasn't much fun, was it?

It was however instructive to remember that all of those losses involved second half rallies that fell short. Would a little more depth have made a difference in finishing off one of more of these games? You never know, but I sure think so.

Next, grades for Gator players, head coach Billy Donovan and fans.


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