Saturday, November 30, 2013

UF Basketball/Football: A Weekend Full of FSU

This weekend, the Gator basketball and football programs welcomed the Florida State Seminoles to Gainesville. The Gators split with the Seminoles as the basketball team emerged victorious on Friday while the football team fell on Saturday. I'll start off with the basketball team.

On Friday night, the unranked Seminoles came into the O-Dome to face the #15 ranked Gators. The game was a nail biter the entire way as neither team could take control. Up seven points with less than three minutes to go, it looked like the Gators were going to remain unbeaten at home and extend their home win streak to 20 games. But FSU would not go down quietly and they managed to tie the game at 66 with 27 seconds left to go in regulation.

UF played for the last shot, but senior guard Scottie Wilbekin decided to go for the win with three seconds to go. The ball bounced off the rim and was corralled by Dorian Finney-Smith, who was fouled with one second to go. Finney-Smith just needed to make one of his two foul shots to give the Gators the lead. Of course, he wanted to make it interesting by missing the first shot. Now the biggest foul shot of the young season was upon Finney-Smith and the Gators. The sophomore reared back and fired up his shot. Swish. The Gators were up 67-66. All they needed to do was play defense.

After an FSU and UF timeout, it was time to decide a winner. FSU inbounded it to their star player in Ian Miller. Miller grabbed the ball at half court and threw up a prayer as the buzzer sounded. Everyone in the O-Dome held their breath as the ball soared towards the basket. As I watched the game from my home in South Florida, I felt time stop for a moment. The ball hit the basket and bounced out. Everyone in orange and blue breathed a sigh of relief. The #15 Gators had survived the upset and kept the O-Dome winning streak intact. It was a classic, but all Gator fans knew that game was much closer than it should have been.

My MVP for this game has to be sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. He made five threes and totaled 17 points on the day. He was by all means the hottest shooter the Gators had on the court and his performance down the stretch served as a crucial part in the Gators' win. He was the second highest scorer on the team behind Casey Prather who had 19 points.

I would also like to highlight some of the FSU players. Centers Boris Bojanovsky (14) and Michael Ojo (10) shot 100% from the field and combined for 24 points on the night. Their play, which well exceeded what is expected out of anyone at their position, was a big reason why the Seminoles were able to stay in the game until the very end.

The Seminoles will look to continue playing well as they head up to Minnesota to take on the Gophers on Tuesday, December 3. The Gators might be a little bit shaken after a much closer contest with their rival than anticipated. Regardless, head coach Billy Donovan should have their minds right as they go up against an undefeated UConn Huskies team on Monday, December 2.

And now the football team...

I'll start off with the obvious. They lost. Was it ugly? Kind of. Did we all see it coming? Yes. Will changes be made? I certainly hope so. #2 Florida State strolled into the Swamp and beat an injury-plagued Florida Gator team 37-7. However, do not let the final score fool you as the Gators stayed within three points of the Seminoles until about five minutes and some change in the second quarter. After "Famous Jameis" Winston completed a long pass to convert a 3rd down and 25, the flood gates open.

Using wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin as his main resource, Winston accumulated 327 passing yards and three touchdowns. Benjamin accounted for all of the touchdown receptions, and he had 212 receiving yards of his own. Even though Jameis finally found his groove and ran a clinic on the Gators like everyone expected, every single Gator fan should be proud of that Gator defense.

Completely outmanned and going up against the likely Heisman winner (pending the allegations), the defense played its heart out. They picked off Winston on FSU's first drive and kept them in check for the first 20 minutes of the game. Knowing the offense would most likely not pick them up, the defense did its job the entire way. 

Even with a dismal offense, the Gators somehow found a way to score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as Skyler Mornhinweg connected with fullback Hunter Joyer for a touchdown. Speaking of Mornhinweg, he should not at all take the flak for yet another lackluster performance by the Gator offense. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.

Sure he took a couple of sacks and lost a fumble, but fans have to keep in mind that he is the third string quarterback. Nobody, including Mornhinweg himself, ever thought he would be playing in this game. The Gators might had been able to score a few more points via the wildcat offense, had senior Trey Burton not gotten injured after his 50-yard rush early in the game. 

I was ecstatic to see the Gators score a touchdown considering some people were saying they'd be lucky enough to score a field goal. That one chance for a field goal went wide right, which of course was not surprising to me or any other Gator fan in the Swamp. Regardless of the point spread and all the criticisms facing the Gators and Muschamp, the players fought on. They did not roll over on their Senior Day and let the Seminoles walk all over them. For that, I applaud the Gator football team.
They were dealt a terrible hand this year with all the injuries, but they still continued to persevere until the very end.

Within a few weeks I will be releasing my end of the season overview of the football team. In it I will briefly cover the games of this year, where the Gators failed, and my overall assessment of this season. Stay tuned!

*Stats accredited to

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