Friday, November 28, 2014

UF Basketball: #18 UF vs #5 UNC

The #18 Florida Gators ended their trip to the Bahamas at 1-2 as they lost to the #5 North Carolina Tarheels 75-64. The Gators trailed the entire game and could not stop a UNC offense whose entire starting lineup scored double digit figures. The Tarheels' leading scorer was sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks. He recorded a double-double as he scored 18 points and nabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

Florida's starting lineup was blown out of the water by UNC's as just two players reached double digits this game. They were Michael Frazier II (as usual) and an unusual face in Kasey Hill.

Michael Frazier II really stepped up his game in the Bahamas despite what the game results might say. Against UNC, he had 17 points on 5 of 13 shooting and a team-high nine rebounds. He was perfect on his three free throw attempts and was 4 of 10 from three-point land. Obviously his shooting percentage needs some work, but Frazier II has left Atlantis as a much better player than when he first arrived.

Another player who tremendously improved his game in the Bahamas was Frazier II's old high school teammate Kasey Hill. The sophomore point guard was stellar tonight as he scored a career-high 20 points on 5 of 12 shooting! Hill's sudden offensive outburst allows me to overlook the fact that he had just two assists tonight. He did a good job getting to the line as he went 10 of 12 on his free throw shots.

It seems evident to me that true freshman Chris Chiozza's career-high 13 point game against UAB last night motivated Kasey Hill. In the battle for starting point guard, I'd give the edge to Kasey as ChiChi scored zero points in 15 minutes of playing time. However, ChiChi did beat Kasey in steals 2-1.

The scoring drops off after Frazier II and Hill. The next couple of Gators who contributed tonight were Jon Horford and true freshman Devin Robinson.

Horford had seven points, seven rebounds, and led the Gators with two blocks tonight. Robinson also had seven points and hit one of his two three-point shots. He converted on all four of his free throw attempts and was also one of two Gators to foul out of the game.

The last pair of Gators worth mentioning are Dorian Finney-Smith and Eli Carter. Seen by many as the leaders of this team, they both were non-factors tonight. Finney-Smith fouled out with six minutes left in the game with just four points and five rebounds. Despite a dismal performance, Finney-Smith did lead the Gators on defense with three steals.

It appears that Finney-Smith's left wrist hairline fracture really is bothering him as evidenced by his play. If this is indeed the case, then Finney-Smith should miss as many games as he needs to until his wrist his fully healthy. If it won't be 100% for awhile, then Finney-Smith is just going to have to suck it up and go out there and play.

Dorian Finney-Smith can at least attribute his lackluster performance to injury. For Eli Carter, I see no valid excuse. After nearly winning the game against Georgetown on Wednesday, Carter has made no impact at all these last two games. He did not even play against UAB and against UNC he scored just one point in 13 minutes of action.

Whether head coach Billy Donovan is sending a message to Carter by limiting his playing time is beyond me. All I know is that Carter's play has deteriorated rapidly since the Georgetown game. Now in the same position as a couple of his teammates before the trip, Carter is just going to have to play his way through this slump and earn back his starting spot in the lineup.

Now back to .500 at 3-3, the #18 Gators have exactly a week off before their next game. They are going to need this break to recoup as their next opponent is on the road against the Kansas Jayhawks (4-1) on December 5th. This game can be seen on ESPN and tipoff is at 9 p.m.

Disappointed but content at a 2-1 record in Atlantis, #5 North Carolina (5-1) returns to Chapel Hill to prepare for the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2) on December 3rd. Tipoff for this game is at 7:30 p.m. For anyone wondering, the #2 Wisconsin Badgers (7-0) won the whole tournament with a 69-56 win over the Oklahoma Sooners (4-2) in the championship game.

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