The Pack, who committed only six turnovers on its way to taking a 10-point halftime lead, gave the ball away 12 times in the final 20 minutes. The Pack's carelessness gave the Gators plenty of opportunities to snag a win, and it was Nick Calathes who took advantage, scoring the game-winning points with 11 seconds left as the Gators took down the Pack 68-66 on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.
The Pack (9-3) had one last chance to win the game in the final 10 seconds, but Farnold Degand dribbled into trouble and turned the ball over. After Calathes hit a free throw to make it 68-66 with three seconds left, Degand heaved up a half court prayer that banked harmlessly off the backboard.
Calathes dominated the second half, scoring 24 points on his way to keying the Florida (12-2) comeback. The sophomore guard led all scorers in the game with 32 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Brandon Costner led the way for State with 24 points on 9-for-11 shooting but also turned the ball over five times. Ben McCauley and Degand also scored in double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively while Courtney Fells added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds. Tracy Smith, who scored 31 points in the Pack's last contest, was held to just three points off the bench and did not make a field goal.
The Pack was a little jittery out of the gate, playing only its second true road game of the season, but despite some offensive miscues the visitors trailed just 12-15 with eight minutes left in the half. That's when the Pack woke up from its early slumber, finishing off the half with a 21-8 run that put them up by double digits at the break.
The 33-23 halftime score came as the result of some solid shooting and better ball security from the Pack. The team had six quick turnovers early in the half but the Gators' halfcourt pressure didn't force any give away during the final eight minutes. Meanwhile the Gators had seven turnovers themselves while going 0-for-6 from behind the arc and just 40 percent from the field overall. Meanwhile the Pack hit 54 percent of its shots in the half and was 2-of-6 from 3-point land.
The Gators battled back in the second half though, starting the half with a 14-6 run to cut the Wolfpack lead to just two points. Calathes jump started the Gator offense, scoring seven points in the first five minutes of the half while the Gator defense picked up its pressure and forced a flurry of turnovers. From there the two teams battled down to the wire until Calathes scored the go-ahead bucket on a jumper with 11 seconds remaining.
While the Pack shot an incredible 66 percent over the final 20 minutes the Gators were able to get into the lane and score with relative ease as well, shooting 60 percent for the half. But the turnovers made all the difference in this one, with the Pack giving the ball away 12 times and the Gators racking up 16 points off those turnovers.
The road only gets tougher for the Pack, as they have a week off before stepping into the conference schedule. They'll start ACC play with a trip to unbeaten No. 16 Clemson.